Publication - Report

Long-term management of the crown estate in Scotland: analysis of consultation responses

Published: 25 Jan 2018
Directorate:
Marine Scotland Directorate
Part of:
Marine and fisheries, Research
ISBN:
9781788515498

Summary report on the responses to the consultation on the long-term management of the crown estate in Scotland.

103 page PDF

896.7 kB

103 page PDF

896.7 kB

Contents
Long-term management of the crown estate in Scotland: analysis of consultation responses
4. Managing Crown Estate Assets for Scotland and Communities

103 page PDF

896.7 kB

4. Managing Crown Estate Assets for Scotland and Communities

Background

Devolution of the management of the Crown Estate assets in Scotland will end the management of the assets being controlled from outside Scotland and it will be possible, for the first time, to retain the surplus revenue in Scotland, rather than the surpluses going to the UK Treasury. Ownership of the Crown Estate will remain vested in the Crown.

Decisions need to be made on what should be the long-term framework for management of Scotland's Crown Estate assets. The consultation paper set out three general principles to explore opportunities for democratic renewal and decentralisation:

1. People should be able to influence decisions that affect them and their families, and trust the decisions made on their behalf by those they elect.

2. Arrangements should be appropriate and tailored towards the needs and aspirations of people and places, to support the delivery of shared National Outcomes.

3. Arrangements should be effective, efficient, and represent value for money for Scotland as a whole.

Question 14: Do you have any views on the proposed application of the above principles to guide the long-term framework for managing Crown Estate assets?

4.1 154 (73%) respondents answered this question. Table 8 in Annex 1 shows responses by category of respondent. Table 4.1 overleaf summarises these responses.

4.2 56% of those responding to the question stated that they had views on the proposed application of the principles; 27% stated that they had no views on this; and 18% of respondents did not know.

4.3 81 respondents provided relevant commentary on the proposed principles. Their views are summarised overleaf.

Table 4.1: Summary of whether respondents had any views on the proposed application of the above principles

View No. of respondents % of all respondents*
Yes - have views 86 56
Do not have any views 41 27
Do not know 27 18
Total respondents 154 100

*Percentages may not total 100% exactly due to rounding.

General supportive comments

4.4 Several respondents, across a range of sectors, expressed their support for the principles, in broad terms. They were viewed as "fair", "strong", and fitting with the ethos of community empowerment and local solutions to local problems. A repeated view amongst individual respondents was that the principles were in keeping with ambitions for communities striving to improve their economic prospects. A few land and estate respondents considered that the principles fitted with principles of devolution; and encouraged a shift from focus on short-term commercial opportunities to engaging with communities to work towards a longer-term, sustainable approach.

4.5 A few respondents suggested that environmental stewardship and priorities should be referred to within the principles.

4.6 A local authority raised the question of priority of principles, suggesting that the order of them will vary depending on the type of asset under consideration, and identified the need for a strategic overview of key assets.

Views on principles 1 and 2

4.7 Principles 1 and 2 were welcomed by many respondents (largely individuals), as enabling local communities to be involved in decisions which affect local people. Island local authorities, in particular, were supportive of local communities influencing decisions on local needs. Some respondents considered that these principles will contribute to sustainable, long-term benefits to local areas; others envisaged the principles helping to balance national concerns with local needs.

4.8 In contrast to these views, many respondents from the leisure and tourism sectors in particular, identified disadvantages to management of assets at a local rather than national level: loss of uniformity of management across Scotland; inconsistent practices across different local authorities; loss of attention to the needs of communities of interest; loss of economies of scale; reduction in opportunity to learn and apply lessons across different areas; loss of specialist expertise in management ( e.g. relating to wayleave rights for various services); increase in bureaucracy due to negotiations with individual local authorities rather than one national body; and disincentive to inward investment.

4.9 A few respondents considered some of the terminology of principles 1 and 2 to be vague. Greater definition was requested on meaning of "people"; "trust", and "arrangements".

Views on principle 3

4.10 Whist a few respondents expressed support for this principle in terms of it reflecting what is expected, and looking beyond short-term gains, several others, largely local authorities were critical.

4.11 Local authority respondents identified the principle as posing potential conflict for them, due to the requirement for "value for money", whereas they are under statutory obligation to ensure "best value". They argued that at the local authority level, best value will be subject to scrutiny by Audit Scotland, and this would also apply to the Crown Estate, if devolved to local authorities.

4.12 A further issue was the perception by several local authorities in particular, that the reference to "Scotland as a whole" in principle 3 suggested a move away from a devolution approach, and could be perceived to be at odds with a community empowerment ethos too.

4.13 Once again, the meaning of "arrangements" was queried. One individual considered the wording of principle 3 should be re-worked into plainer English, with words such as "efficient" requiring further explanation.

Design options for the Crown Estate in Scotland

Design options

The consultation presented three key options for designing the long-term framework. Identified through stakeholder engagement these are:

Option 1: Retain management of all assets at the national level.

Option 2: Devolve management of all assets to local authorities or communities.

Option 3: Consider on a case-by-case basis the appropriate governance arrangements for each asset of the Crown Estate in Scotland.

The Scottish Government considers option 1 to be the most streamlined approach, but it would not fully implement the Smith Commission's recommendation of further devolution, which would be delivered by option 2. However, there are concerns over the availability of local skills and expertise to deliver option 2, as well as fragmentation and financial burden. Option 3 would avoid the imposition of the "one size fits all" approach across Scotland, and would provide scope for further devolution, tailored to the aspirations of communities and would provide space for alternative solutions if some assets, or interactions with industry, cannot sensibly be run on a fragmented basis.

Question 15: Which of the three proposed options for managing the Crown Estate assets in Scotland do you prefer?

4.14 180 (85%) respondents answered this question. Table 9 in Annex 1 shows responses by category of respondent. Table 4.2 summarises these responses.

Table 4.2: Summary of respondents' preferences for options for managing Crown Estate assets

Response No. of respondents % of all respondents*
Option 1 (national) preferred 57 32
Option 2 (local) preferred 30 17
Option 3 (hybrid) preferred 69 38
Other 21 12
Don't know 3 2
Total respondents 180 100

*Percentages may not total 100% exactly due to rounding.

4.15 The most popular option was the hybrid one, chosen by 69 respondents (38%). 57 (32%) respondents preferred management to remain at the national level. The option receiving least support was devolution of management to local level, selected by 30 (17%) respondents. 21 respondents proposed another option for managing Crown Estate assets.

4.16 Those most strongly in favour of option 1 were respondents from the leisure and tourism sector, fisheries and seafood bodies, and those in the "other commercial" sector. Those most strongly in favour of option 2 were local authority bodies and community groups. Option 3 received strongest support from ports and harbour respondents and individual respondents.

Question 16: If other, what approach to management do you propose?

4.17 Three individuals and a leisure and tourism organisation expressed their preference for management to remain as it was prior to devolution of the Crown Estate.

4.18 Several respondents, from different sectors, argued strongly for national management to be retained for marine assets and rights in excess of the 12nm area of coast. This, they considered, would enable local flexibility to manage the 0 - 12nm area of land and foreshore assets, whilst benefitting from what they perceived to be essential national expertise and oversight required for the 12nm - 200nm area. Two respondents from the "other commercial" sector emphasised their view that national control should be retained for the management of the oil and gas infrastructure, considering the scale and importance of this. They suggested that national control would ensure consistency in decision-making, including commercial terms and the terms of documentation and legal agreements.

4.19 Two respondents from the fisheries/seafood sector also considered that current expertise should continue to be utilised, in this case, in relation to salmon fishing, and suggested that the existing district-wide fisheries organisations should continue to manage assets. One port and harbour body argued that trust port harbour limits should be allocated to trust ports to ensure suitable expertise.

4.20 Several respondents envisaged versions of option 2 as their preference, if these could marry national or regional oversight relating to some functions, with local management of other functions. One community group suggested that local communities and councils manage marine and foreshore estates in partnership, with area coastal partnerships nestling within wider regional coastal partnerships, thereby harnessing local information with regional strategic planning.

4.21 The island authorities were amongst respondents who considered that management of Crown Estate assets should be devolved at least to the three island authorities, to fulfil the intentions of the Smith Commission. These authorities perceived that they are well equipped to manage these assets, with potential benefits including the creation of new jobs in some of the most fragile communities.

4.22 One individual envisaged a model in which certain named local authorities should have devolved management, whilst others would need to apply for consideration for this.

4.23 A few respondents considered another approach to management which involved extending the right to buy land for community groups. A view expressed by a few of the land and estate respondents was for community owners of land which abuts the foreshore to have the right to buy the adjoining foreshore, in order that assets material to the functioning of the community can be managed as an integrated whole. Furthermore, they argued that any community owner should have the right to seek to negotiate an agreement for asset transfer, or a management and revenue earning/sharing agreement with the Crown Estate (or local authority if devolved to them), in relation to the seabed within the 12nm limit.

4.24 One respondent proposed a trust model of operation, as a way of managing large areas of land across a wide geographic area, whilst operating at a local level with local communities. Within this model, they outlined how, from experience, strategic issues such as insurance, financial and legal can be dealt with on a national level, leaving partners at a local level to get on with the day-to-day management and maintenance of each site. They suggested that this model works well because of the removal of the liabilities and challenges, in an efficient cost-effective way, ensuring that the investments are secured long-term for each site and challenges are dealt with efficiently.

Functional or geographical approach?

The management of the Crown Estate could be kept in one organisation or be reformed on a functional basis or a geographical basis. The Smith Commission's recommendations envisaged further devolution or management of the land, property and rights being pursue on a geographic basis, with particular reference to the Orkney Islands, Shetland Islands and Western Isles and a process for other local areas to express interest in local management.

Question 17: Should a geographic or a functional approach guide the reform of the management of the Crown Estate in Scotland?

4.25 173 (82%) respondents answered this question. Table 10 in Annex 1 shows responses by category of respondent. Table 4.3 summarises these responses.

Table 4.3: Summary of respondents' preferences for the approach to guide the reform of management of the Crown Estate in Scotland

Response No. of respondents % of all respondents*
Geographic basis 54 31
Functional basis 73 42
Don't know 16 9
Other 30 17
Total respondents 173 100

*Percentages may not total 100% exactly due to rounding.

4.26 Whilst there was no majority view, 73 respondents (42%) preferred a functional approach, compared with 54 respondents (31%) who favoured a geographical approach to guide the reform of management of the Crown Estate. 30 respondents proposed another approach to guiding this reform.

4.27 Respondents most strongly in favour of a functional approach were leisure and tourism bodies, other commercial organisations, and individuals. Those most strongly in favour of a geographical approach were community groups and local authority bodies. Overall, the approach preferred most by individual respondents was by function (49% of those providing a view); and the approach preferred most by organisations was by geography (38% of those providing a view).

4.28 The potential geographical approach to guide the reform of the management of the Crown Estate attracted some comment. In its favour, several respondents (largely local authorities) commented that it aligned with the Smith Commission recommendations; it prevented cherry-picking and asset stripping; and it fitted better with marine planning. The drawbacks of the geographical approach were identified as inconsistency in approach across areas, possible disputes and complexities arising at geographical borders; and too arbitrary to be used for assets of national importance.

Proposals for other options

4.29 The most common view amongst those (particularly individuals) preferring another option was that management should continue at a national level.

4.30 Another recurring view, across several sectors of respondent, was for a combination of both geographic and functional management models, as appropriate, depending on the nature of the assets in question. Examples were given of assets which would be more appropriately managed by function: fish farms; rural estates; marine environment. Assets which respondents considered more appropriate to manage by geography included: foreshore; and local moorings. Salmon fishing was viewed a requiring both models of management, geographical for river catchments, and functional to tap into specialist support knowledge.

4.31 Several respondents, largely from the land and estate sector, suggested a hybrid model which focused on geography, but was flexible enough for exceptions in order to access specialist, central expertise. One local authority described this model as local but with assets of national and strategic importance managed by function.

4.32 Two respondents envisaged largely national, functional oversight, but retaining an option for local/geographical arrangements, particularly where capacity for this is evident.

Question 18: Do you have a preference for management on a geographic basis being led by either authorities or communities?

4.33 142 (67%) respondents answered this question. Table 11 in Annex 1 shows responses by category of respondent. Table 4.4 summarises these responses.

Table 4.4: Summary of respondents' preferences for management on a geographic basis being led by either local authorities or communities

Response No. of respondents % of all respondents*
Local authorities 40 28
Communities 73 51
Don't know 29 20
Total respondents 142 100

*Percentages may not total 100% exactly due to rounding.

4.34 The slight majority view (51%) amongst those who provided a response was for management on a geographic basis being led by communities. Just over one quarter (28%) stated that they preferred management to be led by local authorities. A relatively high proportion (20%) of respondents reported that they did not know which they preferred, suggesting that there may be some who did not favour either option.

4.35 Amongst individual respondents, the preference for community-led management increased to 70% of those who provided a view. Amongst organisations, the option preferred most frequently was management led by local authorities (43% of those providing a view). 29% of organisations preferred a community-led model; 29% did not know which model they preferred.

Enabling Ministers to reform the management of the Crown Estate

To recognise the diversity of the estate and the scope for different solutions over time, consideration is being given as to whether the new legal framework could include a power for the Scottish Ministers to transfer the responsibility for management of the estate, or parts of the estate, to a particular person or persons. This could include the Scottish Ministers, a local authority, a public body or another person including a community organisation. This power could be used to vary who manages the estate, or parts of the estate, in future. This would enable the Scottish Ministers to either reform the management of the Crown Estate across Scotland immediately or undertake a phased approach to reform.

Question 19: Should Scottish Ministers have the power to hand responsibility for management of the estate, or parts of it, to a particular person or persons?

4.36 169 (80%) respondents answered this question. Table 12 in Annex 1 shows responses by category of respondent. Table 4.5 summarises these responses.

Table 4.5: Summary of views on whether Scottish Ministers should have the power to hand responsibility for management of the estate or its parts, to a particular person(s)

Response No. of respondents % of all respondents*
Yes 89 53
No 67 40
Don't know 13 8
Total respondents 169 100

*Percentages may not total 100% exactly due to rounding.

4.37 A slight majority (53%) of those who provided a view considered that Scottish Ministers should have the power to hand responsibility for management of the estate, or parts of it, to a particular person or persons. A significant minority (40%) of respondents disagreed. There was a similar balance of view amongst individuals and organisations.

4.38 Amongst the organisations, those representing the leisure and tourism sector, and those in the "other" category, were largely against the proposal. Fisheries and seafood bodies were equally divided in view; other organisational sectors were largely in favour.

Question 20: Should Scottish Ministers have a power to vary management arrangements held by other parties over time?

4.39 167 (79%) respondents answered this question. Table 13 in Annex 1 shows responses by category of respondent. Table 4.6 summarises these responses.

Table 4.6: Summary of views on whether Scottish Ministers should have a power to vary management arrangements held by other parties over time

Response No. of respondents % of all respondents*
Yes 109 65
No 36 22
Don't know 22 13
Total respondents 167 100

*Percentages may not total 100% exactly due to rounding.

4.40 The majority (65%) of respondents who provided a view considered that Scottish Ministers should have a power to vary management arrangements held by other parties over time. The balance of view amongst individuals and organisations was similar. The majority of respondents in all of the organisational sectors were in favour of Scottish Ministers having this power.

Question 21: Should Scottish Ministers have the power to extinguish rights currently held in the Crown Estate where management of the asset can be adequately covered by other legislation?

4.41 161 (76%) respondents answered this question. Table 14 in Annex 1 shows responses by category of respondent. Table 4.7 overleaf summarises these responses.

4.42 The majority (55%) of respondents who provided a view considered that Scottish Ministers should have the power to extinguish rights currently held in the Crown Estate where management of the asset can be adequately covered by other legislation. A significant minority of 30 respondents, largely organisations across a wide range of sectors, did not know whether or not they agreed or disagreed with this proposal, suggesting further clarification may be required.

Table 4.7: Summary of views on whether Scottish Ministers should have the power to extinguish rights currently held in the Crown Estate where management of the asset can be adequately covered by other legislation

Response No. of respondents % of all respondents*
Yes 88 55
No 43 27
Don't know 30 19
Total respondents 161 100

*Percentages may not total 100% exactly due to rounding.

4.43 Individuals provided stronger support than organisations, with 60% of the former compared with 48% of the latter, agreeing with the proposal. Amongst organisations, the strongest opposition emerged from respondents in the leisure and tourism sector.

Delivering more control for communities

In the light of the Smith Commission's recommendations and Scottish Ministers' policies on community empowerment, consideration will be given to opportunities for enhancing local control of property, rights and interests currently managed by the Crown Estate. Whilst there may be potential for further devolution to councils or communities of assets such as foreshore rights and leasing for wave and tidal energy out to 1nm, 3nm or 12nm, there may also be a need for management of some assets at national level such as offshore renewable leasing (12 - 200nm zone), rights over cables and pipelines which may transcend national borders within the UK, and rights to naturally occurring gold and silver.

Question 22: Do you have any views on which assets should be managed at the (i) national level, (ii) by local authorities, or (iii) by communities?

4.44 113 (53%) respondents answered this question.

Broad views

4.45 Several respondents, across different categories, expressed broad support for the proposals set out in Box 10, page 33 of the consultation document (see Annex 2), detailing what Scottish Ministers consider to be potential further devolution opportunities.

4.46 A theme emerging from several other responses, across a range of sectors, was that level of management of assets may require a case-by-case assessment, taking into account circumstances, local capacity and expertise, and the need for overarching leadership and strategy. The concept of "hybrid" management was put forward by a few individuals, who envisaged national strategic direction and outlook, with local management involvement nestling under this. A natural heritage and conservation respondent emphasised the importance of those managing assets at any level having access to resources, expertise and national oversight. A few respondents suggested that where environmental issues are at stake, management of assets should take place at national level.

4.47 Many respondents provided views on what assets they considered should be managed at each level. Their views are summarised below.

Views on which assets should be managed at national level

4.48 22 respondents, nine of them individuals and the remainder from a range of sectors, considered that all assets should be managed at national level. The reasons provided were that expertise is at this level, and assets will be protected best with national oversight. An individual considered that national level management provided the most opportunity for cross-subsidisation and re-investment in assets; a respondent from the fisheries sector suggested that national management should be put in place in the short-term, with further devolution likely over time as local bodies gain expertise and insight.

4.49 There was support (from across a few different sectors) for the suggestions made by Scottish Ministers that rights over cables and pipelines, and rights to mining and naturally occurring gold and silver, be managed at national level.

4.50 A few respondents from the land and estates and "other commercial" sectors provided their view that rural estates should be managed nationally, although others considered that assets such as foreshore assets could be managed by communities.

4.51 Many respondents, particularly enterprise bodies and those from the "other commercial" category, supported national level management of leasing for wave and tidal energy and offshore wind energy. However, rather than national management from 12nm to 200nm as suggested in the consultation document, a recurring view was that management up to 12nm should also come under national management. This was viewed as having the advantage of providing industry with a "one stop shop" for business; ensuring the certainty required for investment; enabling common issues to be addressed more efficiently; reducing duplication of effort; providing context for more effective liaison and engagement with UK-wide industry developments; and providing stability, consistency and access to expertise.

4.52 Another common view, amongst a wide range of sectors, was that " marine assets" should be managed at national level. It was suggested that this would enable a holistic approach to management, informed by expertise and knowledge. Some considered that national management would enable patrimonial rights, limitations and burdens to be respected; others identified benefits of consistency in approach and standards across Scotland. One view was that national management would enable alignment with regional marine planning.

4.53 Other suggestions for national level management were made by a few respondents:

  • Aquaculture - in order to ensure consistency of approach; fairness; avoid conflicts of interest if local authorities assume responsibility for planning legislation pertaining to the marine aquaculture beyond the low water mark. (Enterprise or Coastal Management Bodies; Fisheries/Seafood Bodies)
  • National Significant Infrastructure Projects. (Other Commercial/Research)
  • Carbon Capture and Storage - to provide operators with one point of contact and one regulatory authority. (Other Commercial/Research)
  • Large-scale and/or large-value properties in city areas. (Individuals; Leisure/Tourism)
  • Salmon fishing rights. (Fisheries/Seafood Bodies)
  • General administration and oversight of inshore boat moorings - to ensure economies of scale. (Ports and Harbours; Leisure/Tourism)

Views on which assets should be managed at local authority level

4.54 A common view amongst local authorities in particular, was that this level of management is appropriate for most assets in view of the democratic accountability held by local authorities and their proven record of managing assets in the public interest.

4.55 Some local authorities suggested that they should manage all assets not listed in Box 10 of the consultation document as "better managed at national level" (see Annex 2). Several other respondents agreed that management of aquaculture and offshore leasing to 12nm should be conducted at local authority level.

4.56 A few respondents considered that salmon fishing rights and land in other ports should come under local authority management.

4.57 Opposing views expressed by six respondents, three of them from the leisure and tourism sector, were that local authorities should not be involved in asset management. They were perceived to be lacking in the vision required, not sufficiently local in outlook, and could be subject to conflicts of interest which were likely to emerge ( e.g. temptation to increase mooring dues in order to cross-subsidise other areas of council expenditure).

Views on which assets should be managed by communities

4.58 Several respondents expressed their agreement for the items listed in Box 10 under functions which could potentially be further devolved to councils or communities.

4.59 A few respondents from the fisheries, leisure and tourism sectors, in addition to a few individuals suggested that individual fisheries could be managed by local communities.

4.60 A few respondents across different sectors considered that local moorings should be managed locally, albeit with a nationally set mooring fee.

4.61 Where there is aspiration by communities to manage rural estates, and a viable plan and capacity to manage effectively, then there was some support for local communities managing these assets.

4.62 A view emerging largely from the ports and harbour bodies was that management of harbour areas should "remain" within trust port control.

4.63 Some respondents considered that the current and potential scale of assets should be taken into account in decisions on level of management. A few individuals suggested that "smaller" items which will impact only on local communities, should be managed at this level. Two local authority bodies and a respondent from the "other commercial" category argued that communities should not manage leasing for wave and tidal energy given the potential scale of development, although this could be kept under review.

4.64 Two local authority bodies and a community group provided their view that management of assets should not be devolved further than local authority level.

Delivering further devolution of Crown Estate assets

If potential for devolution of the management of Crown Estate assets extends to local authority and community level, there would be an expectation for them to make a business case for the devolution to the local level of the decision-making of particular property, rights and interests of the Crown Estate and to demonstrate that they have the capability to take on the management of these assets, to maintain service delivery to customers and deliver increased benefits.

Question 23: Should local authorities or communities be expected to make a case for further devolution?

4.65 169 (80%) respondents answered this question. Table 15 in Annex 1 shows responses by category of respondent. Table 4.8 overleaf summarises these responses.

Table 4.8: Summary of views on whether local authorities or communities should be expected to make a case for further devolution

Response No. of respondents % of all respondents
Yes 96 57
No 61 36
Don't know 12 7
Total respondents 169 100

4.66 57% of respondents who provided a view considered that local authorities or communities should be expected to make a case for further devolution. A similar proportion of organisations (54%) and individuals (59%) supported the proposal.

4.67 A significant minority of 36% of those providing a view disagreed with the proposal. Most local authorities expressed disagreement; half of the leisure and tourism respondents disagreed.

Question 24: If yes, should they demonstrate the capability to ensure appropriate management, to maintain service delivery and to deliver increased benefits?

4.68 118 (56%) respondents answered this question. Table 16 in Annex 1 shows responses by category of respondent. Table 4.9 summarises these responses.

Table 4.9: Summary of views on whether local authorities or communities should demonstrate the capability to ensure appropriate management, maintain service delivery and deliver increased benefits

Response No. of respondents % of all respondents*
Yes 101 86
No 9 8
Don't know 8 7
Total respondents 118 100

*Percentages may not total 100% exactly due to rounding

4.69 A sizeable majority (86%) of respondents who provided a view considered that local authorities or communities should be required to demonstrate the capability to ensure appropriate management, to maintain service delivery, and to deliver increased benefits. Four of those opposing the proposal were individuals.

Delivering enhanced local control

There are options on how local management could be achieved.

One model could be a "shared services" approach involving either a national administration to support local decision-making or a similar administration at a wider regional level to provide services for clusters of council areas or communities. This would enable local communities to take decisions on assets based on information prepared by a central or regional administration, which could also undertake day to day management of, and planning for, the assets under local control.

Question 25: Replicating functions in each area is likely to lead to fragmentation of the estate which would pose significant risk to realisation of new revenue. How can these risks be avoided?

4.70 119 (56%) respondents answered this question.

4.71 23 respondents, largely individuals and local authority bodies, questioned whether devolved management of assets will lead to fragmentation, or that fragmentation of the estate will pose unwelcome risks:

" (We)…would question the term fragmentation being used here, as it is the wrong term to use. It is in fact devolution, de-centralisation and community empowerment that will occur, and these are positive developments for the Crown Estate in Scotland. ( We) ….do not agree that devolution to local authorities poses a risk to revenue for either marine or terrestrial assets" (local authority body).

4.72 A few respondents suggested that fragmentation, leading to local responses to local circumstances, can produce positive benefits, for example better use of estates, greater innovation and higher revenue returns. Some considered that central management posed greater risks to revenue in terms of potential inefficiencies. Six individuals emphasised their view that environment and social factors are as important as revenue generation, and these could be enhanced by local, responsive management of assets.

4.73 A common view, put forward by 40 respondents across a wide range of sectors, was that the risks posed by fragmentation are too great and management of assets should remain at national level.

Views on minimising risks posed by fragmentation

4.74 All other respondents who provided a view suggested approaches to minimise potential risks:

  • Ensure local management aligns with national strategy and outcomes (14 mentions).
  • Establish a shared central administrative function which sets fees and other charges, but allows for local flexibility (10 mentions).
  • Ensure strong collaborative networks and partnerships between communities, local authorities and Scottish Government (9 mentions).
  • Establish a robust national framework of oversight and accountability in order to keep track of performance and make appropriate changes promptly (9 mentions).
  • Support devolved management with access to training, resources, best practice guidance and a central pool of expertise (3 mentions).

Question 26: Should shared services be a requirement of devolution to the local level of decision-making on property, rights and interests of the Crown Estate?

4.75 109 (51%) respondents answered this question. Of these, 50 respondents (largely individuals, but across a wide range of sectors) expressed clear support for shared services as a requirement of devolution, if this is the approach adopted (some did not agree with the overall approach of devolution). 32 respondents (largely individuals and local authorities but across a wide range of sectors) expressed clear opposition to shared services being made a requirement of devolution. Five respondents stated that they were unsure and needed more information on which to base their opinion. Two respondents considered that shared services should be an initial requirement during the interim phase, but the requirement should not be in place over the longer-term. 11 respondents re-stated their view previously given that assets should be managed at a national level. Others provided relevant commentary only.

4.76 Patterns emerged amongst different sectors, with local authority bodies being generally opposed to the proposal; leisure and tourism bodies and also respondents in the "other commercial" sector being generally in favour.

Views in support of shared services being a requirement of devolution

4.77 Five key rationales emerged in favour of the proposal:

  • To ensure consistency of approach to management; minimise local exploitation at the expense of broader public interest; ensure consistent standards of practice including computer systems.
  • To ensure management practices align with wider national and international strategy and commitments.
  • To limit financial risks.
  • To minimise duplication in working; enhance efficient working practices.
  • To mitigate against over-complexity of project management from the perspective of developers.

Views opposed to shared services being a requirement of devolution

4.78 Five key arguments were made against the proposal:

  • The proposal was considered to be patronising and not required as local authorities and local communities have demonstrated their competence to manage local assets.
  • Local decision-making should mean just that.
  • The proposal is restrictive and overly prescriptive. Collaborative arrangements should grow organically rather than being prescribed.
  • Shared services are not a requirement for other services managed at local level, so why should Crown Estate assets be treated differently? The same risks will be involved.
  • The proposal appears to be aimed at retaining the existing management structure rather than genuinely devolving powers.

Question 27: What are the opportunities, if any, for further devolution?

4.79 40 (19%) respondents answered this question by identifying opportunities which they envisaged would result from further devolution. Others responded more generally, agreeing that opportunities are likely to emerge. Several more respondents expressed their general opposition to further devolution.

4.80 The five most frequently identified opportunities are listed below in order of most frequently to least frequently mentioned:

  • Community capacity-building; empowerment of local communities; increased community confidence and resilience; local engagement and commitment.
  • Greater local economic opportunities; increased local employment; more business and local enterprise opportunities.
  • Local solutions to local issues; local decision-making; increased transparency in decision; decisions more responsive to local needs.
  • Better managed assets; better use of local assets.
  • Better streamlining of consenting regimes such as planning and licensing.

Question 28: What are the challenges, if any, of further devolution?

4.81 74 (35%) respondents answered this question by identifying challenges of further devolution. Others responded more generally, agreeing that there were challenges to be overcome. Several more respondents expressed their general opposition to further devolution.

4.82 The five most frequently identified challenges are listed below in order of most frequently to least frequently mentioned:

  • Lack of community/local expertise required to manage large projects; lack of expertise in generating and sustaining revenue.
  • Establishing genuine local decision-making structures which are accountable and transparent.
  • Fragmentation leading to inconsistencies in standards and approaches between areas; different charging mechanisms.
  • Appropriate resourcing; loss of economies of scale; small net revenues diluted by multiple managers.
  • Loss of strategic overview which could lead to conflicting interests; local exploitation of assets to the detriment of the wider public interest.
  • Liability issues to be addressed; local authorities to know what their responsibilities and liabilities are before devolution.

Strategic planning role

Leaving aside the options of who manages the assets, there will be a continuing need to provide for strategic planning and investment strategy development on a national basis or for industry sectors, in order to co-ordinate work to enhance the value of the estate, in future.

The consultation paper proposed that strategic planning will ensure continuity of investment in strategic research and initiatives, including activities to enable new industries to develop, grow and mature to a stage where they become new sources of revenue for the estate.

Question 29: Is there a need for strategic planning and a long term investment strategy, in order to co-ordinate work to enhance the value of the estate?

4.83 170 (80%) respondents answered this question. Table 17 in Annex 1 shows responses by category of respondent. Table 4.10 summarises these responses.

Table 4.10: Summary of views on whether there is a need for strategic planning and a long term investment strategy, in order to co-ordinate work to enhance the value of the estate

Response No. of respondents % of all respondents
Yes 142 84
No 12 7
Don't know 16 9
Total respondents 170 100

4.84 A significant majority (84%) of respondents who provided a view considered that there is a need for strategic planning and a long term investment strategy, in order to co-ordinate work to enhance the value of the estate. Only one organisation ("other" category) disagreed; a further eight did not know. Amongst individuals, 78% agreed; 11 disagreed; eight did not know.

A national framework

The consultation paper proposed that it would be appropriate to put in place a national framework to govern further devolution opportunities. A national framework could define powers, duties and responsibilities and would set the context for local decision-making where further devolution of management is possible.

Question 30: Do you have any views on the value of a national framework to guide local decision-making?

4.85 104 (49%) respondents answered this question. Almost all envisaged benefits of putting in place a national framework to govern further devolution opportunities. Two respondents were unsure; five individual respondents were opposed on the grounds that this would not allow for sufficient local flexibility, or that there are already suitable frameworks and guiding principles existing.

4.86 Many of those supporting a national framework did so on the grounds that it would provide guidance only and not be overly prescriptive. Respondents across a wide range of sectors emphasised the need for local flexibility within the framework in order to tailor decision-making to local circumstances. Several called for local communities and other relevant stakeholders to be involved in the development of the national framework.

4.87 A few of the land and estate respondents suggested that the scope of the framework should be strategic rather than extend into operational matters such as local charging structures. However, a few of the respondents from the "other commercial" category identified benefits in the framework creating consistency in leasing terms and rates offered to developers, which would ensure consistency and predictability when projects compete against each other for a route to market.

Views on the value of a national framework

4.88 The three benefits of a national framework mentioned most frequently by respondents were:

  • Will provide guidance and direction to local communities in their decision-making.
  • Important for larger-scale projects such as those relating to the marine estate.
  • Essential in order to maximise the value of the estate; support the generation of revenue; make best use of assets.

4.89 Other key benefits identified included: help in protecting environmental concerns; contributes to a cohesive and consistent approach; and ensures alignment with other related national frameworks.

Question 31: Should there be consistent charging approaches between areas to avoid competition between different parts of Scotland?

4.90 166 (78%) respondents answered this question. Table 18 in Annex 1 shows responses by category of respondent. Table 4.11 summarises these responses.

Table 4.11: Summary of views on whether there should be consistent charging approaches between areas to avoid competition between different parts of Scotland

Response No. of respondents % of all respondents
Yes 108 65
No 35 21
Don't know 23 14
Total respondents 166 100

4.91 The majority (65%) of respondents who provided a view considered that there should be consistent charging approaches between areas to avoid competition between different parts of Scotland. A significant minority of 21% of those providing a view opposed this proposal. Individual respondents constituted most of those in opposition; land and estates respondents were largely opposed, in contrast to other organisational sectors.

Question 32: Are there any other issues that should be covered by a national framework for management of Crown Estate assets in Scotland?

4.92 41 (19%) respondents provided relevant responses to this question. Four key issues emerged most often:

  • Achieving equity of opportunity across all areas of Scotland (mentioned largely by individual respondents).
  • Buy-back/clawback arrangements and issues (the ability to buy back any asset at the same cost it was sold for, similar to the Community Empowerment Act (Scotland) 2015 provisions to buy back assets) (mentioned largely by local authority bodies).
  • Sustainability of assets; environmental issues; issue relating to climate change (mentioned largely by individual respondents).
  • Annual reporting and review (mentioned across several respondent sectors).

4.93 Other issues were identified by mentioned by only a few respondents:

  • Complaints/appeal procedures.
  • Responsibility for liabilities.
  • Role of local council in community decision-making.
  • Management of telecommunications applications.
  • Approvals process for organisations such as port authorities.
  • Employment issues: salaries; benefits.
  • Engagement with local stakeholders.
  • Arrangements to avoid overuse/inappropriate use of assets (National Park controls were referred to in this regard).

Implementing devolution at the Scottish level: a phased approach

Where further devolution is considered appropriate, the transfer is likely to take place at different times in different parts of Scotland to give councils and/or communities the time to prepare for taking on the new responsibilities.

As outlined in the consultation, there is considered to be a strong case to reach a decision on which property, rights and interests of the Crown Estate should be managed at a local level in Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles as a first priority, and, indeed, the local councils have made clear their ambitions for further devolution.

Question 33: Should the future arrangements in Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles be considered first?

4.94 163 (77%) respondents answered this question. Table 19 in Annex 1 shows responses by category of respondent. Table 4.12 summarises these responses.

Table 4.12: Summary of views on whether the future arrangements in Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles should be considered first

Response No. of respondents % of all respondents
Yes 69 42
No 57 35
Don't know 38 23
Total respondents 164 100

4.95 Whilst there was no outright majority for or against the proposal that the future arrangements in Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles should be considered first, more respondents were in favour (69 respondents or 42%) than against (57 respondents or 35%), but almost one-quarter (23%) did not know.

4.96 Local authority bodies were amongst those most strongly in favour, with seven of the 11 who provided a view, in favour, only one against, and the remaining three not sure. Other respondent sectors were more evenly divided in view.

Question 34: Is a phased approach needed to introduce reforms to the management of Crown Estate assets across Scotland?

4.97 159 (75%) respondents answered this question. Table 20 in Annex 1 shows responses by category of respondent. Table 4.13 summarises these responses.

Table 4.13: Summary of views on whether a phased approach is needed to introduce reforms to the management of Crown Estate assets across Scotland

Response No. of respondents % of all respondents
Yes 91 57
No 36 23
Don't know 32 20
Total respondents 159 100

4.98 The majority (57%) of respondents who provided a view considered that a phased approach is needed to introduce reforms to the management of Crown Estate assets across Scotland. Amongst organisations the majority was higher at 61%; with only 11 organisations (15%) opposed to this proposal. However, almost one-quarter (24%) of organisations did not know whether or not they were in favour, suggesting that they did not have enough information on which to base their view.

4.99 25 (30%) individual respondents were against the proposal.

Question 35: Is there value in a pilot scheme prior to implementing reforms?

4.100 167 (79%) respondents answered this question. Table 21 in Annex 1 shows responses by category of respondent. Table 4.14 summarises these responses.

Table 4.14: Summary of views on whether there is value in a pilot scheme prior to implementing reforms

Response No. of respondents % of all respondents
Yes 99 59
No 35 21
Don't know 33 20
Total respondents 167 100

4.101 The majority (59%) of respondents who provided a view considered that there is value in conducting a pilot scheme prior to implementing reforms. Organisations expressed stronger support than individuals, with 63% of the former and 56% of the latter in favour. Around one-quarter (24%) of organisations, almost half of them leisure and tourism organisations, stated that they did not know whether or not there is value in a pilot scheme, suggesting that more information is required before views can be formed. A significant minority (28%) of individual respondents were opposed to a pilot scheme.

Question 36: How can people influence decisions in relation to the management of the Crown Estate assets?

4.102 103 (49%) respondents answered this question. Views on how people can influence decisions ranged from very broad statements about getting involved, to more specific suggestions on particular engagement mechanisms.

4.103 The three suggestions made most often were:

  • Via national and local consultations (paper-based; internet-based; face-to-face public meetings).
  • By devolving decision-making to local authorities/local communities.
  • Through existing democratic processes at local authority and other levels.

4.104 Other suggestions made by at least five respondents were:

  • Engagement with stakeholders; engagement with local communities; roadshows; innovative models of local engagement.
  • Through MSPs.
  • Using the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015 and seeking the right to participate.
  • Through local community councils.

4.105 A few respondents considered there to be a need for a statutory framework for engagement with local communities over management of Crown Estate assets; and for opportunities to influence to be promoted and supported with guidance.

Question 37: How should the long term governance arrangements differ from the interim arrangements?

4.106 83 (39%) respondents answered this question.

4.107 The most common view, expressed by around one-third of those providing a view, was that the long term arrangements will be informed by the lessons learned from the pilots. Further consultation following these was envisaged by a few respondents, the outcome of which would also feed into longer term arrangements.

4.108 Many respondents suggested broad differences between the interim and long term arrangements. Most frequently identified were:

  • Greater levels of devolution over the longer term, in accordance with the Smith Commission's recommendations, including devolution of revenue management.
  • Focus shift from short term operational objectives to long term strategic objectives, aligned with wider, national frameworks.
  • Widening of aims over time to encompass socio-economic and environmental objectives, rather than purely financial considerations.

4.109 A few respondents envisaged communities to be more involved in long term management arrangements; for long term management to be supported with Ministerial direction and statutory guidance; and to be overseen by an appointed Board accountable to Scottish Ministers.

4.110 A small minority of respondents considered that the long term arrangements should not differ from the interim arrangements, although it was not clear what their underlying rationale was in most cases. A few respondents were not sure what the difference would be over the longer term.


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