5 Comments on the draft Plan and how these have been taken into account
5.1 General feedback
5.1.1 The Environmental Report was issued for consultation alongside the draft Plan. The consultation sought views on the Plan: its vision, objectives, priorities and policies, as well as the ways in which it can be routinely monitored.
5.1.2 Views were invited on 21 questions (including four sub questions which comprised question 17). 11 questions related to the draft strategy, two to the Environmental Report and 8 questions related to other impact assessments.
5.1.3 The consultation received 34 responses from 2 individuals and 32 organisations - an equal mix of local (16) and national organisations (16). Respondents from organisations included local authorities, enterprise or coastal management bodies, natural heritage/ conservation bodies including the three SEA Consultation Authorities (HES, SEPA and SNH) and leisure and tourism organisations. Wider feedback was also provided by land and estates, fisheries/ seafood bodies, ports and harbours, commercial/ research organisations, and other organisations.
5.1.4 There was limited input from individuals (2 responses). Further, not all respondents answered all questions. There was however general support for the draft Plan and its contents across all questions.
5.1.5 Following the public consultation, the draft Plan was updated, taking into account the findings of the Environmental Report and the views expressed during the consultation, as well as to reflect developments since the draft was published in November 2019.
5.1.6 The sections below include a summary of the comments received during the consultation and how these comments have been taken into consideration in developing the final Plan.
5.2 Opportunities to contribute to sustainable development
5.2.1 The vast majority of respondents said that the opportunities to contribute to sustainable development as outlined in the consultation document were appropriate for the Scottish Crown Estate (24, 89%). There were a few comments that aspects of sustainable development might need to be further defined and one issue raised by a couple of respondents (natural heritage/ conservation body and land and estates) was the need to conceptualise value in ways that go beyond traditional financial aspects to also embrace the wider economic, social and environmental aspects of sustainable development. Also, while not proposed within the draft Plan, a specific concern inferred was that environmental wellbeing could be “out-ranked” in decision-making processes by economic or financial considerations.
There was a request from a few respondents (including enterprise or coastal management bodies and land and estates) for a greater emphasis to be placed on, and a stronger commitment made to, community empowerment within the final version of the Plan. It was reported that this was “at the heart of sustainable development, regeneration and social and economic wellbeing”. The importance of communities delivering sustainable development across the estate was emphasised. Numerous specific comments and suggestions were also provided relating to the community ownership of assets and community empowerment.
5.2.2 A number of high-level examples were outlined in the consultation document to illustrate how the objectives, priorities and policies for the Scottish Crown Estate align with and can contribute to Scottish Ministers’ wider objectives, priorities and policies on economic development, regeneration, social wellbeing and environmental wellbeing. Where specific comments were provided on the high-level examples provided in the consultation document, the feedback largely confirmed that the examples provided were appropriate, but not necessarily an exhaustive list of potential opportunities.
5.2.3 Only a few respondents said that the opportunities to contribute to sustainable development outlined in the consultation document were not appropriate for the Scottish Crown Estate (three, 11%). This included a local authority, a leisure/ tourism body, and a fisheries/ seafood body. They raised individual points regarding experiences and potential solutions to issues with the pilot scheme, the need to properly address the sustainable development of the marine estate and the opportunity for Crown Estate Scotland to support the net-zero emissions target through management based on land type. It was felt that this could be delivered in such a way as to maximise jobs and enhance the economy.
5.2.4 A fisheries/ seafood body commented that the examples provided in the consultation document did not recognise the historic legal role of the Crown Estate to protect the rights of navigation and fishing. It was suggested that this could give greater clarity to the range of development activities, and help develop stronger links between the Plan, Scotland's National Marine Plan, and general/ fisheries policies.
5.2.5 SG response: Given that the vast majority of respondents were content with the opportunities to contribute to sustainable development, we did not make significant changes to this section. All comments were considered as part of the final review process and we intend to expand on the examples within any future guidance for managers, which may provide additional detail or additional examples. The Scottish Government will continue to work with Crown Estate Scotland and prospective managers of Scottish Crown Estate assets to protect the rights of navigation and fishing.
5.3 The Vision in the Plan
5.3.1 Almost all respondents felt that the vision articulated in the Plan met their expectations (either in full or partially) for the Scottish Crown Estate for the next five years (28, 97%).
5.3.2 Where respondents indicated that the vision met their expectations in full, this was more likely to be expressed by local authorities, natural heritage/ conservation bodies, land and estates, and ports and harbours. Across the board, however, respondents who answered ‘fully’ often caveated the response with commentary that economic benefit or traditional financial aspects should not have priority over the wider aspects of sustainable development (i.e. social, environmental).
5.3.3 Where respondents indicated that the draft vision only partially met their expectations for the Scottish Crown Estate, this was more often reported by other organisations, fisheries/seafood bodies, enterprise or coastal management bodies and leisure/tourism bodies. However, there was general support among these respondents for the high-level vision, including the “commitment to deliver long term social, economic and environmental benefits for Scotland and its communities” .
5.3.4 This support was often set within the context of the following points:
- It was reported that there was a need for a duty to strike a balance between economic and other benefits;
- It was considered important that the Plan clearly demonstrated, and placed sufficient emphasis on, the involvement of communities;
- Wider points made reference to the term “environmental” in the vision (leisure/ tourism and local authority).
5.3.5 Wider individual points raised by these respondents included a few suggestions to help strengthen the vision, for example, by incorporating reference to accountability, the benefits of seabed and fisheries management to Scotland and its communities, and cross referencing with the National Islands Plan.
5.3.6 Only one respondent (leisure/ tourism) reported that the vision articulated in the Plan did not meet their expectations for the Scottish Crown Estate for the next five years (3%). Their view was that vision statements were of limited use in the context of strategic planning, and that a clear sense of direction was best delivered by a clear statement of purpose.
5.3.7 SG response: The powers and duties in the Scottish Crown Estate Act 2019 provide further opportunities for communities to derive enhanced benefits from the assets in their area.
5.4 Objectives, Priorities and Policies
5.4.1 Some 87% of respondents felt that the objectives, priorities and policies would deliver success to the Scottish Crown Estate. Strong support was expressed by most organisation sub-groups.
5.4.2 A diverse range of comments were provided by these respondents, however, only a couple of common themes emerged; a few respondents said that “success” would need to be clearly articulated and defined in the final Plan before an informed view could be provided to this question; that any definition of what success looks like should ensure due consideration of socio-economic benefit and environmental wellbeing. Various comments on how to achieve success were provided.
5.4.3 Only three respondents felt that that the objectives, priorities and policies would not deliver success to the Scottish Crown Estate. No real themes emerged, however, feedback did highlight that success should only be measured by socio-economic benefit derived and not “corporate”criteria/ measures.
5.4.4 When asked if respondents felt there were other opportunities for revenue generation less than half felt there were other opportunities. A wide range of individual comments were provided; ranging from scope to more closely link the Scottish Crown Estate to developments included as part of Growth Deals to carbon offset projects, and from payments for delivering public good to opportunities that seek to improve the resilience, efficiency and productivity of rural estates.
5.4.5 The majority of respondents reported that the objectives, priorities and policies would impact them positively. The potential to generate considerable income to meaningfully engage and empower local communities, and to support community projects and programmes was mentioned in a few cases. A variety of wider positive impacts were mentioned, including increased influence and sense of local ownership, and more sustainable management and use of Scottish Crown Estate assets. Where the impact was reported to be negative, some concerns were raised including that benefits might not be retained within local communities, and that a loss of local control in decision making risks disillusionment with the process. A further concern was the potential administrative burden that could be placed on communities.
5.4.6 All respondents reported that the objectives, priorities and policies would align and take account of wider Scottish Government objectives either fully or partially. Much of the feedback expressed support for the aims of the Plan and its aspiration to more fully involve communities in the management of individual assets. Some respondents called for closer links to be made between the Plan and wider strategies and plans, namely the Land Use Strategy, Growth Deals, National Planning Framework, Local Development Plans, emerging Regional Spatial Strategies, National Islands Plan, Island Community Impact Assessments, National Marine Plan, Climate Change Plan, Climate Change Adaptation Plan/ Programme, and priorities related to the historic environment.
5.4.7 SG response: The implementation of the Plan will continue to build on and align, where possible, with wider areas of policy that contribute to a fair and just society while balancing public and private interests. Scottish Ministers made the decision to not list all the wider strategies, policies and plans as this would not be exhaustive.
5.4.8 Specific consultation questions were posed around the three themes which encompassed the various objectives, priorities and policies in the draft Plan. Further detail is provided below on responses to questions posed around each theme.
Theme 1: Delivering Benefits and Realising Opportunities
5.4.9 Four-fifths of respondents believed that the objectives, priorities and policies contained in theme 1 would support achievement of the vision for the future management of the Scottish Crown Estate (80%). Among others, strong support was expressed by local authorities, enterprise or coastal management bodies and leisure and tourism bodies. Of those respondents who answered “Yes” to this question, a broad range of general comments were provided. This included comments from some respondents (e.g. enterprise or coastal management bodies, leisure/ tourism) who felt that the commitment to involving and supporting communities within the Plan could be further strengthened.
5.4.10 It was reported in a few cases that stronger and more explicit linkages could be made between the objectives, priorities and policies in the Plan and other priorities, plans and acts. There was also wider reference to the importance of accountability and transparency at all levels.
5.4.11 While the option to charge less than market value for sales and leases where wider community and sustainability benefits could be demonstrated was welcomed - “it would unlock enormous potential for communities” – various comments were provided regarding the term “equivalent scale”.
5.4.12 A respondent felt that there was greater scope for the relocation of Crown Estate jobs in the islands. It was reported that this would contribute to added expertise locally, and make Crown Estate Scotland (Interim Management) more connected to island communities. Another respondent, while recognising the interests of those in coastal areas, noted that the interests of Scotland and its people as a whole should also be taken into account, with respect to Scottish Crown Estate coastal assets.
5.4.13 All respondents (i.e. those that answered “Yes” or “No” to Question 3 or left it blank) provided more specific comments on the seven theme 1 objectives and/ or the associated narrative within the consultation document. Some comments were not explicitly linked to theme 1 and included references to the importance of adopting a strategic and long term approach to help maximise impact, the importance of making reference to the historic environment in theme 1 and throughout the Plan and the need for robust mechanisms to ensure transparency around the income generation, including scrutiny of management expenses.
5.4.14 SG response: Through the Plan and wider policy intervention we will continue to explore ways to strengthen the voice of all communities whilst ensuring to capture the differences between islands in local and national decision-making.
Theme 2: How Scottish Crown Estate Assets are Managed
5.4.15 Over 80% of respondents believed that the objectives, priorities and policies contained in theme 2 would allow the achievement of the vision for the future management of the Scottish Crown Estate. Strong support was expressed by local authorities, enterprise and coastal management bodies, leisure and tourism bodies, and others (e.g. ports and harbours, land and estates, fisheries/ seafood bodies). These respondents presented a range of general comments on the detail of theme 2 as specified in the consultation document.
5.4.16 Good governance of Scottish Crown Estate assets was considered important by some respondents and in some cases respondents provided further detail on their suggestions and feedback regarding the need for clear and fair policy for charging community organisations and comments around reporting requirements.
5.4.17 Wider points included that raised by a local authority who felt that there could be greater recognition of the role local authorities could play as potential managers of the Crown Estate and the associated benefits. It was considered important that the management of the Crown Estate does not become “fragmented and piecemeal”.
5.4.18 There was considered to be scope in the future to review the extent to which certain assets could be managed locally. Here, it was mentioned that the scope of locally managed assets could be broadened. A local authority reported that further fragmentation of ownership of the river bed should be considered in a wider context and managed on a regional/ national basis.
5.4.19 16 % (4 respondents) did not think that theme 2 would allow the achievement of the vision for the future management of the Scottish Crown Estate. There were a few concerns regarding appealing and providing support to communities to take ownership and keep them engaged. Other comments were less consistent and related to specific points around control of salmon farming and extension of the maritime limit.
5.4.20 SG response: Due to the high level of support expressed from respondents, no major revisions were made to this section. We will monitor the objectives, policies and priorities within theme 2 in the Plan to ensure they remain relevant and meet expectations. Through the Plan and wider policy intervention we will continue to explore ways to strengthen the voice of all communities whilst ensuring to capture the differences between islands in local and national decision-making.
Theme 3: Revenue, Management of Liabilities and Other Issues
5.4.21 The vast majority of respondents believed that the objectives, priorities and policies contained in theme 3 would allow achievement of the vision for the future management of the Scottish Crown Estate (21, 88%). Strong support was expressed by local authorities, enterprise and coastal management bodies, leisure and tourism bodies, and others (e.g. ports and harbours, land and estates, fisheries/ seafood bodies).
5.4.22 The most commonly provided feedback from these respondents included support for the proposal to ensure that all of the net revenue from the estate should be used for the benefit of Scotland, in particular coastal communities, “increased ownership” for coastal communities over the adjacent inshore area. Here, accountability and transparency in decision-making processes were said to be important and would help ensure that coastal communities benefitted.
5.4.23 The importance of having appropriate processes and mechanisms in place to ensure that the management assets did not become “fragmented” or “un-coordinated” at local/ regional level was emphasised.
5.4.24 A few local authority respondents specifically welcomed the distribution of net revenues to local authorities, and mentioned that undertaking a review of future allocations with COSLA would be important. Here, wider comments highlighted the importance of partnership working between local authorities and Crown Estate Scotland to “avoid duplication and fragmentation”. The importance of ‘taking full cognisance of the views of the communities it is benefiting’ was also mentioned.
5.4.25 A few respondents believed that the objectives, priorities and policies contained in theme 3 would not support achievement of the vision for the future management of the Scottish Crown Estate (three, 12%); this included some concern raised about the appropriateness of the formula proposed for the distribution of net revenue to coastal local authorities.
5.4.26 SG response: Due to the high level of support expressed from respondents, no major revisions were made to this section. Where appropriate, specific comments were incorporated into the text.
5.5 Other Policies for consideration in the Plan
5.5.1 When asked if there were other Scottish Government policies which should be taken into account, the majority of respondents answered no. Only a few respondents made reference to wider policies. One respondent mentioned the importance of not losing sight of the Community Empowerment Act and another respondent felt that stronger links could be made with Growth Deals, National Planning Framework, and Local Development Plans, and emerging Regional Spatial Strategies.
5.5.2 SG response: Based on the responses received, we did not make any changes to the final Plan’s outcomes and no new objectives were identified as required.