Major reform of Scottish Crown Estate begins

A plan to reform the Scottish Crown Estate and give local communities more control over its assets have been introduced to the Scottish Parliament.

The Scottish Crown Estate Bill will establish a framework for changes in the management of Scottish Crown Estate assets and “give communities a stronger voice in how these assets are managed,” said the Scottish Government.

Cabinet Secretary for Land Reform Roseanna Cunningham said the Bill “opens up the possibility of local authorities and communities taking control of the management of those assets.”

The total capital value of the Scottish Crown Estate assets is £275.7 million, with gross annual revenue of about £15 million.

Cunningham said: “This is a significant moment for Scotland and is the first ever Bill on the Scottish Crown Estate.

“Building on the work of the Smith Commission, this Bill proposes, for the first time, new powers for Scottish Ministers to change who manages Scottish Crown Estate assets, and opens up the possibility of local authorities and communities taking control of the management of those assets.

“The Estate consists of a diverse portfolio, including thousands of hectares of rural land, half of Scotland’s foreshore, urban property and seabed leasing rights for activities such as renewable energy.

“That is why this Bill recognises that a ‘one size fits all’ approach is not practical, laying the foundation for changes in the management of individual assets.

“I believe strongly in maximising the benefits of the Crown Estate for our communities and the country as a whole, while ensuring assets are well maintained and managed, with high standards of openness and accountability.

“That’s why I have put these principles at the very heart of this important Bill.”

Scottish Crown Estate assets include the seabed, just under half of the coastline and four rural estates.

Crown Estate Scotland is responsible for managing:

  • 37,000 hectares of rural land with agricultural tenancies, residential and commercial properties and forestry on four rural estates (Glenlivet, Fochabers, Applegirth and Whitehill)
  • Rights to fish wild salmon and sea trout in in river and coastal areas
  • Rights to naturally-occurring gold and silver across most of Scotland
  • Just under half the foreshore around Scotland including 5,800 moorings and some ports and harbours
  • Leasing of virtually all seabed out to 12 nautical miles covering some 750 fish farming sites and agreements with cables & pipeline operators
  • The rights to offshore renewable energy and gas and carbon dioxide storage out to 200 nautical miles
  • Retail and office units at 39-41 George Street, Edinburgh

Crown Estate Scotland assets are held “in right of The Crown” and the Monarch remains the legal owner.

Amanda Bryan, Chair of Crown Estate Scotland, said: “This legislation is an important step forward in setting out the long-term future of the organisation.

“Coming to the end of our first year of operation we have increased engagement with communities, local authorities and other partners and ensured continuity for our tenants.

“We have also successfully raised funds to continue investing in farms and activity designed to grow Scotland’s low-carbon economy, such as strategic research into offshore renewables.

“We will work to ensure our staff and tenants are kept fully informed as the Bill progresses through Parliament.”