Public invited to comment on Crown Estate revenues

A POWERFUL committee of MPs will meet this month to discuss the allocation of Crown Estate funds in Scotland, in the wake of Scottish Government announcements that Holyrood wants control of the Estate’s Scottish revenues.

The Scottish Affairs Committee will meet to discuss arrangements for the division of the Crown Estate profits in Scotland, which currently pass to the UK Treasury in London. Respondents are encouraged to write to the committee, who will be taking evidence on how the money should be allocated.

Though nominally the property of the Queen, the Crown Estate - which includes a massive portfolio of country estates, city properties, and seabed off the coast - generated profits of £230.9 million in the last financial year across the whole of the UK, with potential for growth in the market for offshore renewables off Scotland’s wettest, windiest coasts.

The First Minister said that securing the profits for Holyrood was ‘vital’, as part of the SNP’s drive to secure a raft of new powers.

“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.”

A spokesman for the Scotland Office said that Westminster’s position was that the profits from the Crown Estates should continue to be a responsibility reserved to the parliament in London.

He told the Times: “The Crown Estate operates across the whole of the UK. The benefits of the Crown Estate operating as a unitary fund means that profit generated in one part can provide investment elsewhere. This is demonstrated very effectively by the significant investment that the Crown Estate has placed in Scottish energy projects over the next few years. Without this unitary approach, offshore development in Scotland would be impeded.”

He added that the government were looking at proposals which could pre-empt the Nationalist’s efforts to win control of revenues for Holyrood, by investigating the possibility that a percentage of the revenue would be passed directly to coastal communities - a suggestion also favoured by the Liberal Democrats.

The spokesman said: “The Government will be setting out proposals shortly, to make sure that coastal communities benefit from the development of the Crown Estate’s marine activities.”

The deadline for responses is September 5. Responses should be no more than 2000 words, and submitted as a Word document by e-mail to scotaffcom@parliament.uk, and include name, address and contact number.