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The Crown Estate in Scotland

On 24 January 2018, the Scottish Crown Estate Bill was introduced to the Scottish Parliament.

The Crown Estate is a collection of ancient rights, functions and assets owned by the Monarch. The Scottish Crown Estate assets include a diverse portfolio of property, rights and interests. The new devolved functions include management of rights to the seabed, including leasing for offshore windfarms and rights over approximately half the foreshore around Scotland, and urban and rural property. The total value of Scottish Crown Estate assets was estimated to be around £275m in 2017.

The Smith Commission recommended that the management of Crown Estate assets in Scotland, and their revenues, should be devolved from the UK level. The Scotland Act 2016 made provision for that by enabling HM Treasury to make a statutory Transfer Scheme. The Transfer Scheme came into force on 1 April 2017.

In parallel, the Scottish Government worked with the Crown Estate Commissioners (and new body Crown Estate Scotland [Interim Management]) and key stakeholder interests to ensure a smooth transition during the interim period.

To support this work, a stakeholder advisory group was established which includes representatives from all key sectors with an interest in the Scottish Crown Estate.

The Crown Estate in Scotland

Scottish Crown Estate Bill

On 24 January 2018 the Scottish Crown Estate Bill was introduced to the Scottish Parliament.

The main aims of the Scottish Crown Estate Bill are to:

  • reform the duties of the managers of Scottish Crown Estate assets;

  • provide legal powers for the transfer and delegation of management of Scottish Crown Estate assets to bodies other than Crown Estate Scotland;

  • create a national framework which ensures local communities, local authorities and industries can benefit

The Scottish Crown Estate Bill seeks to achieve these aims by changing the duty managers to manage assets on a purely commercial basis and allowing them to take into account wider social, economic and environmental factors when making management decisions.

In order to create the opportunity for greater benefit to local communtities from the management and revenue of Scottish Crown Estate assets, the Bill provides for the delegation and transfer of management responsibilities to other bodies including including local authorities, other public authorities and community organisations.

These changes will take place within a national framework that ensures assets are still well managed, and to ensure transparency and accountability. The Bill seeks to lay the groundwork to allow these changes to take place in a phased approach.

On introduction of the Bill the Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform, Roseanna Cunningham MSP, 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.”

The Bill and accompanying documents are available online, and the associated impact assessments are below:

Consultation on the Long-Term Management of the Crown Estate in Scotland

A public consultation on the long-term management of the Crown Estate in Scotland ran from 4 January to 29 March 2017. A consultation analysis report was published on 25 January 2018 and it can be accessed here.

Interim Arrangements

A public consultation on the interim arrangements took place from 30 June to 26 August 2016 and a consultation analysis report was published on 24 October 2016.

The Crown Estate Scotland (Interim Management) Order 2017, approved by the Scottish Parliament on 30 November 2016, and made by the Privy Council on 15 February 2017, established Crown Estate Scotland (Interim Management) to manage Crown Estate assets using powers provided in the Scotland Act 2016.

On 1 April 2017, powers over the revenue and management of Crown Estate resources in Scotland were formally transferred to Crown Estate Scotland (Interim Management). More information on the management by Crown Estate Scotland (Interim Management) can be found on their website.

Related Documents

Committee Evidence

  • The Scottish Parliament’s Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Committee: 6 September 2016
  • The Scottish Parliament’s Rural Affairs, Climate Change and Environment Committee: 17 June 2015
  • The Scottish Parliament’s Rural Affairs, Climate Change and Environment Committee: 27 May 2015
  • The Scottish Parliament’s Public Audit Committee: 27 May 2015
  • The Scottish Parliament’s Devolution (Further Powers) Committee: March 2015