CROWN ESTATE – THE CASE FOR CHANGE Published:  22 June, 2011

Scottish Government publishes proposals for devolution of Scotland’s Crown Estate.

Scotland should have control over its seabed to enable it to properly manage and exploit the country’s important marine assets for the benefit of its people, the First Minister said today.

Alex Salmond made the call in a paper calling for control of the Crown Estate – Scotland’s seabed, foreshore and other public assets – to be devolved to the Scottish Parliament, as endorsed by a vote at Holyrood on June 2.

The paper – one of  six being published to highlight the Scottish Government’s proposed enhancements to the Scotland Bill – outlines plans for a phased devolution of the Crown Estate in Scotland:

It focuses on how local communities can benefit from the development of offshore renewables with the creation of a Fund for Future Generations, enabling a share of the substantial anticipated future revenues from offshore energy to be invested for the long-term benefit of the people.

The paper also advocates linking investment from Crown Estate revenues with the release of  Fossil Fuel Levy resources, which currently stand at nearly £200 million.

The First Minister made the announcement at the National Economic Forum in Edinburgh, which brings together the public, private, third sector and trade unions, and aims to drive forward Scotland’s economy.

Mr Salmond said: “The time is right for the archaic legislation governing the Crown Estate to be brought into line with the realities of devolution in a modern Scotland, accountable to the Scottish Parliament and its people and delivering direct benefits to our communities.

“The Scottish Government has the lead role in exploiting our nation’s considerable potential for renewable energy – including responsibility for economic development as well as both land-based and marine planning. Yet it is the Crown Estate Commissioners who grant leases for offshore projects and there is no obligation on the CEC to work in partnership with our economic development bodies.

“The CEC even have the power to sell Scottish assets, including the seabed and important historic sites – all without the need to even consult the Scottish Government. This is position is simply unacceptable and completely incompatible with the principles of devolution.

“Scotland’s seabed and marine natural resources are a vital part of our economy and offer the greatest opportunity for growth. It is right that Scotland should be able to manage these assets – both as a matter of natural justice and to have the best opportunity to deliver growth in renewable energy. There is cross-party support for this position with the Scottish Parliament voting for this view earlier this month. However the most powerful mandate for change came from the people in the election.

“We are continuing to press the UK Government for unfettered access to Scotland’s £200 million Fossil Fuel Levy funds, to support investment in green energy and create jobs and boost communities’ benefits from our massive renewables resources.”