Crown Estate Under Discussion

Scotland’s three island authorities have been in discussion with Crown Estate Scotland over how it will be managed in the future.

The Crown Estate is not covered in the recently published  Islands Bill .

Some people may think the issue of the Crown Estate is no longer relevant as the Islands Bill covers marine licences but this would be a mistake.

James Stockan,  Leader of Orkney Islands Council said:

 “Devolution of the Crown Estate’s assets will give us the ability to ensure development in our waters is sustainable and delivers the maximum benefits for our communities. The Crown Estate Scotland Board was very receptive and positive about our pilot scheme proposals a meeting is to be set up at an official level to advance this workstream.”

“We are also engaging with Government and other stakeholders through the Crown Estate stakeholders group in respect of the long term management of Crown Estate Scotland’s assets.”

The shared aim of the campaign is to take greater control over decisions that affect island communities. A key aspiration is for the three councils to take over the Crown Estate’s current responsibility for the foreshore and seabed around their islands.

The Islands Bill is:

“A Bill for an Act of the Scottish Parliament to make provision for a national islands plan; to impose duties in relation to island communities on certain public authorities; to make provision about the electoral representation of island communities; and to establish a licensing scheme in respect of marine development adjacent to islands. “


One of the things to be looked at during the progress of the Islands Bill is the number of councillors we have in Orkney in each ward and how they are distributed with the multi member wards. This area  will be explored with the Boundary Commission.

“This section of the Bill amends the 2004 Act to provide an exception to the usual three or four member rule for electoral wards in relation to wards which consist either wholly or mainly of one or more inhabited islands. In these circumstances the Local Government Boundary Commission for Scotland will have the flexibility to propose wards of one or two members”.

The issue of 3/4 councillors representing more than 1 island (or part of an island) may change so that in future separate islands may have a sole councillor (or 2 depending on size of ward) representing them.

With the following being taken into account:

  • the interests of effective and convenient local government
  • that each councillor should as near as possible represent the same number of electors
  • the desirability of fixing boundaries that are easily identifiable
  •  any local ties which would be broken by making a particular boundary
  • special geographic considerations that may need different treatment

It may also remain unchanged.

Island Proofing

Island Proofing is another phrase for Impact Assessment. What this means is that before any legislation is passed by the Scottish Parliament or before other public authorities carry out changes in the delivery of a service that these changes must be tested to ensure that they are not detrimental to the lives of island communities.

“The intention is that island communities impact assessments will become a normal procedural step in public authorities’ decision-making processes, in the manner of the equality impact assessment, used in relation to the duties contained in the Equality Act 2010.” 

Marine Licences

Anyone who wishes to carry out a development  activity in the Islands Marine Area will have to first obtain a licence from the council. People who have already been granted a licence will not be affected by this.  Excluded from the granting of marine licences are:

  • oil & gas
  • defence
  • pollution

These are all reserved matters to the UK Government. Also excluded is Fish Farming. This is because planning permission from a local authority is already required for fish farming.

The Marine Licences will cover the “Scottish Islands Marine Area” “which is up to a radius of 12 nautical miles from an island, measured from the low water mark of the ordinary spring tide.”

The Crown Estate and Planning are not included in the Islands Bill. There will be separate bills for both of these. The Islands Bill as it stands is quite limited and is not a transfer of significant powers to the island authorities.

Reporter: Fiona Grahame


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