Orkney to Benefit with Local Control over Crown Estate

Powers over the revenue and management of Crown Estate resources in Scotland have been transferred to the Scottish Government.

Ministers in the Scottish Government now have control over thousands of hectares of rural land, approximately half Scotland’s foreshore and leasing the seabed for rights to renewable energy.

New body Crown Estate Scotland (Interim Management) has been set up to ensure continuity, while ministers finalise a long term strategy that will include opportunities to place local communities at the heart of the new arrangements for managing assets, which in total were worth £271.8 million in 2015/16 and generated a gross annual revenue of £14 million.

The Scottish Government has already committed to providing the net revenue from marine activities out to 12 nautical miles to coastal and island councils. ‘Our Islands Our Future’ will see Orkney along with the other two island authorities benefitting over the further devolution of powers with the management of the Crown Estate  and revenues generated through it.

Back on the 24th November 2016 the Minister for the Islands Humza Yousaf said:

“Over the next year, this Government will bring forward an Islands Bill, which I was delighted to introduce as a year one bill, reflecting a key commitment in “Empowering Scotland’s Island Communities” and on the proposals we consulted on at the end of last year. That bill will focus on:

  • Island-Proofing
  • A national Islands Plan
  • Statutory Protection for the Western Isles Scottish Parliamentary Constituency Boundary
  • Flexibility to create 1 or 2 member wards for island communities
  • Extension of powers – focussed primarily around the Zetland/Orkney County Council Acts of 1974

I intend to continue engaging with local authorities and communities throughout the bill process to ensure that it stays focused on their needs and interests.”

The Islands Strategic Group was set up with the 3 Island Authorities and to also include representatives of Argyll & Bute,Highland,and North Ayrshire. The purpose of the group was to help to shape the bill and a National Islands Plan.

In November Islands Minister Humza Yousaf again stressed his commitment to:

“ensure that Scotland’s island and coastal communities will benefit from marine income from Crown lands within 12 nautical miles of the coast.”

Commenting on the transfer of the revenues and management of the Crown Estate, Land Reform Secretary for the Scottish Government Roseanna Cunningham said:

“This is a historic day. The management and resources of the Crown Estate now rest with the people of Scotland and we have a genuine, once in a lifetime opportunity to use them to change the fabric of Scottish society, placing the needs of local and coastal communities at the centre of our long term planning for these considerable assets.

“From today, decisions about both the day-to-day management and the future of the estate will be taken in Scotland. This will have positive implications, not only for the many people who live, work or have some other direct connection with the Crown Estate, but for many communities across Scotland. They stand to benefit from the further changes to come, including opportunities for devolved local management of assets.

“I along with the staff of the new interim management body will seek to manage the estate responsibly, delivering benefits to our partners, tenants and communities and ensuring it remains in good order as we continue to develop our long term plans.”

The Smith Commission recommended that the management of Crown Estate Assets in Scotland, and their revenues, should be devolved. The Scotland Act 2016 included powers to devolve management of Crown assets to Scotland through secondary legislation at Westminster.  The secondary legislation was approved on 23 March 2017. The Crown Estate in Scotland includes a diverse portfolio of property, rights and interests that influence many aspects of rural and coastal life in Scotland.

Crown Estate Scotland (Interim Management) is being established as a Public Corporation. It will take on its asset management role from 1 April 2017.

Scotland will continue to fund a share of the Sovereign Grant through general taxes as it does at present. The source of funds for the Monarch come from general taxation, not directly from the Crown Estate Commissioners and Scotland contributes to tax revenues.

Reporter: Fiona Grahame

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