Scottish Crown Estate draft strategic management plan: consultation analysis

Analysis of the responses received to the consultation on the draft Strategic Management Plan for the Scottish Crown Estate.

Appendix C: Specific Comments on Objectives

Table C1: Specific Comments Provided on Theme 1 Objectives

Theme 1 Objective and Narrative Respondent Comment
Objective 1
  • The best public value approach to the use of assets and its application to fishing rights was welcomed by one respondent.
  • Paragraph 53 – a respondent posed some questions and called for greater clarity regarding the example noted in the consultation paper around the sale of a small area of foreshore to the local community for less than market value. The questions posed were: a) does this mean that a sale of a small area with little impact on the Estate as a whole is more likely to be granted?; b) to what limit?; c) many small sales could account for a large area of the Estate? Will small area/value sales/leases consider Estate sales already agreed that month, year, within the five years or overall?
  • Further, another respondent highlighted that community groups have had experience of wider community and sustainability benefits clearly being demonstrated but not taken into account in lease arrangements. This respondent supported a proposal for a 'Community Organisation Support Exemption' and the development of clear, consistent and fair policies in terms of working with communities.
  • A respondent suggested that there could be consideration of not-for-profit community groups managing assets. It was further reported that these groups provide vital local services, cannot compete with commercial developers and should not be charged commercial lease charges (e.g. a concessionary lease for not-for-profit asset managers could be developed and implemented).
  • One respondent commented that reference to the Monarch "owns" the assets was inaccurate and should be deleted.
  • Paragraph 57 – a business case should support any sale.
Objective 2
  • The fact that Objective 2 safeguards a single entity approach to seabed leases was welcomed by one respondent. It was reported that this would help prevent competitive allocation of leases that disregard environmental considerations and allowing re-siting of existing fish farms.
  • A few respondents welcomed confirmation that the seabed is a national strategic asset that Scottish Ministers does not wish to become fragmented. One went on to suggest that Scottish Ministers are asked to ensure that any sales of coastal or foreshore assets are assessed to ensure that they would not hamper the development of Carbon Capture and Storage.
Objective 2 (cont'd)
  • A respondent commented that seabed sales must be permitted where they are required to facilitate a major development that is going to benefit the wider community (e.g. the purchase of seabed to facilitate the financing of a Deep Water Port development).
  • It was proposed that the Plan should recognise and facilitate the aspirations of coastal community landowners who wish to become managers of the adjacent seabed out to 12 nautical miles. Here, it was emphasised that the sea is an "intrinsic and inseparable part of community life in the Scottish islands and just as important as the land".
  • Clarity was called for regarding whether "opportunities to increase value to Scotland" includes environmental value or environmental wellbeing.
  • This objective discusses the disposal of an asset with Ministerial approval (e.g. seabed). However, it does not set out here that the asset could be sold (e.g. seabed), but that the activities within that asset (e.g. cabling) could be retained.
  • Paragraph 57 – a business case should support any sale.
Objective 3
  • The reference to "island proofing" was noted by one respondent who added that this is a statutory duty, and not something which Crown Estate Scotland (Interim Management) can choose to do or not do.
  • This objective sets out the requirement for management plans. However, there is no definition as to how these plans will account for National or Regional Marine Management Plans (only the National Islands Plan is mentioned – Para 62).
Objective 4
  • Paragraph 64 – one respondent agreed that a manager must have regard to the likely effect on the overall value of the Scottish Crown Estate when developing policies around community empowerment for the estate. It was suggested that this could be considered in terms of whether any change will improve outcomes or at least sustain the principles of the vision (i.e. financial benefit, and the wider long term social, economic and environmental benefits).
  • Paragraph 64 and 72 – another respondent commented that despite the strong appetite of many island communities to be recognised as key stakeholders, Crown Estate decisions can often seem to be taken at a very remote distance from the people and places most directly affected by change.
  • Paragraph 64 – another respondent commented that an arbitration or appeals procedure might be an appropriate adjunct to the Plan.
Objective 4 (cont'd)
  • Paragraph 64 - managers should also take account of local policies and strategies such as locality plans and Local Outcome Improvement Plans. Consideration should also be given to local and regional energy strategies.
  • Paragraph 65 – reference to the expectation that it would be "standard practice" for a manager of an asset to involve the local community and support requests to purchase/manage assets was welcomed by one responded.
  • Paragraph 65 – the manager should engage in the same way as any other relevant body in considering community transfer of participation requests.
  • A respondent felt that new managers or owners should be supported with advice and guidance on their responsibilities for environmental protection and management, in order to maximise the benefits the estate provides.
  • A respondent supported the notion of community empowerment through management of assets, but emphasised that the process should be made as simple as is possible, that it should allow local decision making, and that sufficient safeguards should be put in place to ensure any environmental benefits gained from previous management are not lost under new management.
Objective 5
  • A respondent commented that it would be important for holistic and joined up discussions on ports and harbours to take place, including consideration of the infrastructure needed around the Scottish coast to ensure the best facilities are available for the whole fishing fleet to continue producing world leading food.
  • It was suggested that there could be value in investment to enhance east coast port facilities in the expectation of Scotland eventually regaining major maritime trading traffic with the EU.
  • It was suggested that the Plan should contain specific provision for facilitating carbon-free shipping (Hydrogen production from Renewables in ports), expansion of Floating Offshore Wind and commercialisation of Wave Energy
  • A respondent felt that the potential for growth in aquaculture could be mentioned (i.e. the need for innovation to address current issues of pollution and sustainability e.g. overfishing of 'cleaner fish' such as wrasse).
Objective 5 (cont'd)
  • A respondent felt that the sustainability of island communities may better be served through successful initiatives to harness low carbon energy resources locally than by large scale strategic developments designed to turn a profit for remote shareholders. They added that blue growth presents many opportunities and the potential of conflicting ambitions across assets that are shared over different areas, organisations and communities. They added that development should not be at the expense of the marine environment, and that the views of local communities most directly affected by strategic projects concerned with energy transition or aquaculture should always shape developments.
Objective 6
  • Paragraph 74 – one respondent welcomed recognition that the Scottish Crown Estate can make a significant contribution to the regeneration of coastal areas. The respondent, however, felt that there could be a more explicit commitment to supporting community-led regeneration.
  • While the Climate Change Plan is mentioned and welcomed, a respondent felt that the wording does not suggest it is a priority. It was suggested that this could be re-written as follows: "Managers should consider the potential for investments that contribute to the achievement of Scotland's Climate Change Plan and Climate Change Adaptation Plan". Another respondent commented that the Scottish Crown Estate has a major role to play in decarbonising Scotland's industry and achieving net zero greenhouse gas emissions, and that this should be further emphasised.
  • A wider comment related to the Climate Change Plan was that while it is not that there needs to be consideration of the potential for investments that contribute to the achievement of the Plan, it was felt that there was little detail or guidance on how this could be achieved.
  • The same respondent commented that in terms of the objectives for community-led regeneration, it would be helpful to highlight that investing in the restoration of peatland, native woodland and also blue carbon habitats could help to store carbon and contribute to climate change mitigation. And that increasing the resilience of habitats to allow natural adaptation to climate change, particularly at the coast, could help to provide wider benefits to communities such as flood and erosion protection.
  • A respondent noted that restoring biodiversity (species and habitats) as well as ecosystem functions can play a key role in achieving Objective 6.

Table C2: Specific Comments Provided on Theme 2 Objectives

Theme 2 Objective and Narrative Respondent Comment
Objective 6 (cont'd)
  • A respondent felt that environmental regeneration should also be considered, as this is essential for the wellbeing of communities and integrated with the regeneration of local infrastructure, would boost sustainability.
Objective 7
  • The consideration of wider benefits to adjacent and further communities was welcomed. The respondent made specific reference to the benefits of this approach when leasing the seabed and foreshore which are closely linked with local communities and area character.
  • Two respondents agreed that the Scottish Crown Estate should not be limited to the land or property that currently forms part of the Estate. It was noted that this would provide sufficient flexibility to deliver on the Plan's vision, and could add value to the regeneration potential of a project.
  • A respondent felt that any investment off the Crown Estate should adhere to the same sustainability principles as on the Crown Estate, if using Crown Estate resources. Restoration of habitats as carbon sinks or creating managed realignment along coasts are very pertinent examples of how Crown Estate investment could help achieve climate change targets and contribute towards environmental and social wellbeing from Crown Estate land.
  • Paragraph 81 – consideration should also be given to local strategies and needs. This may include regional economic and energy strategies.
Objective 8
  • A respondent mentioned that there should be reference to the principle of subsidiarity.
  • A respondent mentioned that where the management of the Crown Estate assets is passed to a local authority great care is needed to demonstrate internal separation of decision making and adequate transparency to avoid potential conflict.
Objective 9
  • A respondent comment that Offshore Wind in the 1-12nm zone, in common with Wave and Tidal development, and Aquaculture should be devolved to Local Authority areas. It was reported that local authorities and communities are fully engaged with the supply chain for these functions and could realise greater levels of socio-economic benefit.
  • Image 8 – in relation to functions that could potentially be further devolved to councils or communities, a respondent suggested that small-scale seaweed harvesting could be considered.
  • A respondent considered it essential that a flexible and responsive approach is maintained. Any transfer of land and responsibilities should always be discretionary.
Objective 9 (cont'd)
  • Para 94 – A respondent welcomed the fact that certain strategically important assets, such as transmission cables, are to continue to be managed at a national level. However, there are concerns with regards the wording 'at least for the time being' and in Image 8 'functions that may be better managed at the national level'. They were keen to understand when this might change (during each 5-year review or at any time in between?) and whether this would be geographically distinct, thus affecting some, but not necessarily all of our assets. They mentioned that it takes many years to plan and develop strategically important infrastructure projects and this timescale could easily span one or more review period; therefore, knowledge as to how that asset is to be treated once installed is essential to a successful project.
Objective 10
  • Some respondents noted agreement with the proposition that the seabed should be treated as a national strategic asset, that it should be managed at a national level, and any decisions regarding the seabed should consider the potential long-term effects on sustainability.
  • Wider feedback on the treatment of the seabed included that there would need to be clear lines of communication between any national management and local and regional economic development opportunities (e.g. Growth Deals). Another respondent hoped that fish catching would be recognised as an industry of critical national interest and that management should remain at the national level. Another felt that it should not be sold except for clear cases with wide community benefit (e.g. purchase of the nearshore solum of a Deep Water Port to facilitate financing of the project). While the seabed remains a national asset, it should be locally managed out to 12nm under the oversight of Scottish Ministers.
  • A respondent confirmed support for the objective as it appear to reinforce the single lessor approach to aquaculture sites by its cautious approach to delegation of asset management.
  • Paragraph 95 – a respondent welcomed the recognition of maritime environment in shaping culture, wellbeing and wealth of Scotland, and safeguarding these for Scotland and local communities.
  • Paragraph 100 – a respondent noted that some intertidal areas are national assets and of significant value in ways other than purely financial. Some intertidal areas perhaps deserve the same tight scrutiny which is proposed for the seabed despite being of other value, rather than important for infrastructure?
Objective 11
  • A respondent commented that it was not clear how the objective relates to the existing Asset Management Pilot Scheme and that this should be clarified.
  • RSPB Scotland would welcome the opportunity to be consulted on the draft guidance.
  • Paragraph 107 – a respondent noted that there could be reference made to environmental impacts to give credence to the plans commitment to sustainability and environmental wellbeing as one of its key pillars. It was further suggested that a requirement could be that plans are informed by those with the relevant environmental experience as would be expected from those informing economic proposals, to reduce the risk of an erosion of environmental wellbeing due to insufficient expertise. Another made reference that consideration of the impact on the environment should explicitly include historic environment.
  • The same respondent felt that any guidance should try to encourage connections to be made between economic development, regeneration, social wellbeing and environmental wellbeing. It was felt that a coordinated approach would reduce the risks of pitting one against the other where this may not be necessary. The 'weight to be given to various factors' is a key consideration and will vary depending on the situation.
Objective 12
  • A respondent commented that Objective 12 regarding manager duties was vague and would benefit from being further clarified.
Objective 13
  • A respondent welcomed the approach to developing ministerial guidance on how, inter alia, to manage fishing rights.
  • A respondent commented that the objective was "too directive". A more supportive and facilitative approach was considered appropriate - Crown Estate Scotland could work with communities to achieve mutual objectives.
  • Paragraph 119 – a respondent commented that the Crown Estate Stakeholder Advisory Group does not have environmental/wildlife conservation representatives as part of its membership. This was felt to pose a risk that economic interests would be placed to the fore due to a lack of appropriate environmental expertise or experience or sufficient voices to inform activities.
  • Paragraphs 115-119 – a respondent noted that reference to general guidance appeared to relate to that produced by the Scottish Crown Estate. It was suggested that wider guidance (where available) could also be considered (e.g. that produced by ALGAO Scotland, the Chartered Institute for Archaeologists and Historic Environment Scotland.

Table C3: Specific Comments Provided on Theme 3 Objectives

Theme 3 Objective and Narrative Respondent Comment
Objective 13 (cont'd)
  • A respondent felt that the management and reporting requirements and guidance should be proportionate to the asset size, value and impact.
Objective 14
  • Para 122 – a respondent welcomed the power to manage rental income that has been devolved in order that it aligns with any national charging calculations and the inclusion of cables (Para 123).
  • Paragraph 123 – a respondent mentioned that charges should remain consistent and should be reviewed on a regular basis.
  • Paragraphs 125/126 – a respondent mentioned that management and reporting requirement should be proportionate to the value of the asset particularly those which may move to community ownership.
Objective 15
  • A respondent noted the following points: that care should be taken when delivering administrative responsibility for some Crown Estate assets to local authorities. It was reported that the local authority management of Common Good Assets has shown collective poor performance; and operating expenses should be governed by strict and enforceable guidelines to prevent wastefulness.
  • Image 9 – a respondent called for further clarity on how the proportion of net revenue that may be retained by the manager for investment in the Scottish Crown Estate is to be calculated.
  • A respondent said that sustainability and environmental and social wellbeing (once defined) should be appropriately and effectively incorporated into discussions and plans on spending revenue.
  • A respondent agreed with the proposed model that directly benefits local coastal communities. From a business point of view it would useful to know what payments being made in relation to activities are to be put to local community funds and what will reside permanently within the SCF. Will this separation of funding streams lead to a separation in agreements inside and outside the 12nm boundary, or are these to be split internally post-payment as suggested by the flowchart. This is important as some of activities straddle this boundary and it would be good to better understand how this rental is likely to be treated.
Objective 16
  • A respondent welcomed the proposals, but indicated that they would also like to see community benefit from the larger scale projects beyond 12 nautical miles and local communities directly affected by developments having a real opportunity to be engaged in decision-making about how the revenue from marine assets is used.
Objective 16 (cont'd)
  • The entitlement to have local voices heard should not be confined to larger coastal communities or mainland based Local Authorities, but also available to small island communities, on appropriate terms, including local meetings on islands at times and places convenient to islanders.
  • A respondent noted its support for Island proofing measures which take account of unique island circumstances, including local capacity to participate in planning development of local marine assets and the management of associated projects (commercial enterprises and not for profit enterprises).
  • Paragraph 135/136 – the use of proportionate reporting was welcomed by a respondent, as was additional funding for coastal communities.
Objective 17
  • A respondent noted as positive the collaboration between Scottish Government and COSLA on a review for the future arrangements of the management of net revenues from marine assets.
  • A respondent felt that the proposal to seek to increase net revenue from marine assets would provide a positive opportunity, and could provide a funding source for projects that deliver environmental, social and economic benefits to coastal communities and Scotland's people more widely. The same respondent said that they hoped that this funding could support the implementation of Regional Marine Planning Partnerships, and the enhancement or restoration of coastal and marine habitats to maximise the ecosystem services that they provide (ranging from carbon sequestration in 'blue carbon' habitats to flood protection offered by kelp beds and healthy saltmarshes or sand dune systems).
  • Paragraph 140 – a respondent accepted that there will be a requirement to invest in the assets to maintain the assets.
Objective 18
  • A respondent welcomed the value placed on the requirement for local organisations interested in the management of assets to consider how they can take on the function and liabilities for the longer term, whilst delivering added value, transparency and efficiency. This was said to be essential if increased local control is to meet the core aims of the Scottish Crown Estate.
  • Paragraph 144 – a respondent felt that the transfer of liabilities is a concern which should be considered alongside the capacity of the transfer bodies to take on any liabilities. The transfer of asset to communities or local authorities should be discretionary.
Objective 19
  • A respondent noted its support to the Shared Services approach to local asset management. They added this this approach has been used to good effect in a pilot, and that it recognises and values the skills, knowledge and commitment of Crown Estate Scotland (Interim Management) staff.
Objective 20
  • Paragraph 152 – a respondent asked for clarity and further detail on how managers will be held responsible and accountable for their actions and decisions.
Objective 21
  • A respondent noted their understanding that current Crown Estate Scotland (Interim Management) staff rights should be respected and protected, they felt that there was a strong case for jobs to be relocated on the islands, and for Crown Estate Scotland to have a more local presence.



Back to top