Crown Estate Bill proposed by Scot Gov maintains a feudal relic; radical overhaul needed, warns Wightman

Scottish Green MSPs will today (19 June) warn that the Scottish Crown Estate Bill being proposed by the Scottish Government maintains a "feudal relic" and risks "business-as-usual" when a "radical overhaul" is needed to benefit local communities.

This afternoon's Stage One debate and vote on the Bill follows the 2014 Smith Commission recommendation that management and revenues from Crown assets such as harbours, coastlines and forestry should be devolved to the Scottish Parliament and that management be further devolved to local councils.

The 2016 Scotland Act devolved the management but it did not devolve the revenues.

Green MSPs are considering tabling three amendments to the Bill during Stage Two later this year:

* Abolish the Crown's ancient feudal rights and transfer them to more appropriate bodies.

For example, the Crown’s rights to naturally-occurring assets such as mussels, oysters should be abolished and they should be managed by Scottish Ministers as part of normal wildlife management. The Crown’s rights to the foreshore should be abolished and ownership transferred to local authorities.

* Place the devolution of management of Crown assets to local councils on the face of the Bill rather than leaving as regulations that depend on ministerial approval.

* Ensure mechanisms for better management by local councils of Scotland's 426 ports, harbours, jetties and piers.


Andy Wightman MSP, Land Reform spokesperson for the Scottish Greens, said:

"Communities the length and breadth of Scotland are routinely hampered in their efforts to make the most of historic assets such as harbours, foreshores and the seabed. To date the Crown Estate has been remote and unaccountable, and sadly it seems most parties at Holyrood are content with a business-as-usual approach to this feudal relic when it really needs a radical overhaul.

"Greens will continue to champion local accountability, and we will support the Bill at stage one, to allow it to proceed to the next stage of committee scrutiny. We will seek to amend it to bring about a modern system of asset management that puts local communities in charge."