Scotland bids to wrestle offshore control from Crown Estate

Scottish ministers want the Crown Estate to be more accountable to them and not their Westminster counterparts. If successful, this will give Scotland a greater say in its natural resources, […]

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Scottish ministers want the Crown Estate to be more accountable to them and not their Westminster counterparts.

If successful, this will give Scotland a greater say in its natural resources, including the booming renewables industry. In Scotland, the Crown Estate manages the seabed up to 12 miles from shore as well as the foreshore and some on-land assets, yet it entirely answerable to parliament in London, not Edinburgh.

Scotland’s Secretary for Rural Affairs and Environment Richard Lochhead said: “The election of a new UK coalition government provides the opportunity for the Crown Estate to fully adapt to the post-devolution era.

“The fact that a UK body like the Crown Estate controls our seabed when the flow of all other marine powers are going in the opposite direction is out of step with modern and progressive political arrangements.A series of meetings have already begun between Scottish government officials and their Crown Estate and London counterparts to explore the options.

Mr Lochhead added: “Scotland’s offshore energy potential is vast and we have the opportunity to be a world leader in this area. Therefore we are continuing to work closely and constructively with the Crown Estate on our ongoing offshore renewables work. However, what is critical is that we ensure that the fruits of this good work stay in Scotland.”

In March, a UK Treasury Select Committee report recommended that a memorandum of understanding between the Scottish government and the Crown Estate is needed to consolidate the working relationship.

In May, the Offshore Valuation Group found that Scotland’s total offshore resource is estimated at 206 gigawatts. By harnessing around a third of that resource, offshore renewables capacity could reach 68GW by 2050, which would provide a net value in terms of electricity sales of £14bn.

Last year, the Marine Energy Group estimated that more than 12,000 jobs in marine renewables could be created by 2020, which would contribute £2.5bn pounds to Scotland’s economy.

Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond will address Renewable UK, the UK’s biggest renewable event, in November in Glasgow.