Hands off our sea say Scots

Scotland should have control over its seabed so it can exploit its assets for Scottish people said Alex Salmond today. The First Minister said the Crown Estate should devolve responsibility […]

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By Sumit Bose

Scotland should have control over its seabed so it can exploit its assets for Scottish people said Alex Salmond today. The First Minister said the Crown Estate should devolve responsibility and rights to the seas around Scotland to the devolved Government in a deal worth millions.

The Crown Estate owns rights to UK territorial waters and the potential to exploit them for renewable energy and oil exploration. But Mr Salmond said the current laws don’t take account of the Scottish Parliament and the rights to exploit the country’s marine resources, should rest firmly in Edinburgh.

Mr Salmond said: “The time is right for the archaic legislation governing the Crown Estate to be brought into line with the realities of devolution in a modern Scotland, accountable to the Scottish Parliament and its people. This (Scottish) government has the lead role in exploiting our nation’s considerable potential for renewable energy. Yet it is the Crown Estate Commissioners who grant leases for offshore projects.

“They even have the power to sell Scottish assets, including the seabed and important historic sites – all without the need to even consult the Scottish Government. This is position is simply unacceptable and completely incompatible with the principles of devolution.”

Mr Salmond’s view was backed by a vote at Holyrood on June 2 and was made in a paper designed to highlight changes to the Scotland Bill. It calls for the Crown Estate to release Fossil Fuel Levy resources, which currently stand at nearly £200 million directly to Holyrood.

“We are continuing to press the UK Government for unfettered access to Scotland’s £200 million Fossil Fuel Levy funds, to support investment in green energy and create jobs and boost communities’ benefits from our massive renewables resources,” added Mr Salmond.