‘Taking Control’ of the Crown Estate
The Scottish Crown Estate includes a diverse portfolio of property, rights and interests, including the Scottish seabed, foreshore and ancient possessions of the Crown.
From 1 April 2017, under the Scotland Act 2016, the management of the Scottish Crown Estate areas has been transferred to a new interim body - Crown Estate Scotland (Interim Management). They now control thousands of acres of rural land and about fifty per cent of Scotland’s foreshore. It has been a long-standing policy of the Scottish Ministers to reform the management of the Crown Estate and the Consultation of the Long Term Management of the Crown Estate in Scotland which ran until 29 March 2017 considered arrangements for devolution against a backdrop of a number of restrictions on the management of the Estate and the need to recognise potential liabilities of assets.
To date, rights and interests of the Crown Estate have been managed on a commercial basis. Should this continue or should there be a case for a wider set of considerations, for example, socio-economic considerations? Should Scotland be afforded the opportunity make day to day management decisions that focus on financial and social opportunities for Scotland and also retain surplus revenue within Scotland?
It is inevitable that legislation from the Scottish Parliament will eventually be required; this is anticipated some time during 2019. The new Crown Estate Scotland (Interim Management) body will however ensure continuity until that time comes and a long term strategy can be adopted. The 2016 Act stipulates that the responsibilities must be devolved to a single entity therefore any possible devolution to local authorities must follow the initial passing of powers to Holyrood, hence the current set up. Careful consideration will have to be given as to how best to deal with the overall management to ensure all sectors that deal with the Crown Estate, including ports, harbours, the fish farming industry, etc. are treated fairly.
If you have any on-going discussions or contracts with the Crown Estate and would like assistance, please do not hesitate to contact Caroline Cumming on 01224 632464.