Among the laudable intentions of the newly minted SNP Government is to tackle an institution that controls over half of Scotland—the Crown Estate. The half that they control is one that people have paid little attention to until recently: the wet bit. In an earlier blog about exploiting our seabed, we pointed out that Scotland is much larger than England…if you count their seabed too.
Originally (and rather arbitrarily) assigned to the ownership of the king, our entire seabed and most of our coastline passed to parliament (now the UK Treasury-controlled Crown Estate) when the Civil List deal was cut with the monarchy on the accession of George III. It has a portfolio worth £6.2bn (mostly in England) and turns a profit of £210m each year.
A good part of that profit comes from leasing our seabed. Starting with £75 for a fish farm back in the ’60’s, there are charges for anything attached to the seabed all the way from a mooring buoy to an oil rig. They don’t actually DO anything for the money other than issue bills. With huge our huge potential for tidal, wave and offshore wind farms, much of the profit from such development will be siphoned off by the Crown Estate, a partner that does nothing but hold its hand out.
Compared to England, our marine resources are huge. But, rather than having this UK vampire sink medieval management into every foreshore and undersea development, the return of control of our seabed—in fact all Crown Estate property in Scotland (including Applegirth, Fochabers, Whitehill and Glenlivet estates) to Scotland—must be high on the ‘to-do’ list of our spanking new majority Scottish government.