The Scottish Affairs Committee is returning to Inverness on 24th September to hold a private meeting with witnesses to discuss the Government’s “disappointing” response to the Committee’s report looking into the Crown Estate in Scotland.
On 19th of March this year the Committee published its report on the Crown Estate in Scotland at a launch event in Inverness with several recommendations. However the UK Government have not accepted the reports recommendations, which included devolving Crown Estate assets to local communities.
The Crown Estate (CEC) is a statutory corporation that manages various Crown property, rights and interests in Scotland. It acts as the owner of those assets, although they are actually owned and held in trust for Scotland by the UK monarch.
The evidence to the Committee identified major issues over the CEC’s management of its responsibilities, particularly in relation to the seabed and the foreshore, including: lack of accountability and transparency; lack of communication and consultation with local communities; the inappropriateness of the CEC’s statutory remit for its responsibilities in the marine environment; cash leakage from local economies and other adverse impacts arising from the way the CEC operates and limited benefits in Scotland from the CEC’s involvements.
The Committee concluded that the best way to address these fundamental issues is to end the CEC’s responsibilities for the administration and revenues of the ancient Crown property, rights and interests in Scotland, and instead devolve these to the appropriate local level.
Ian Davidson MP, Chair of the Committee, said: “The Committee was disappointed with the Government’s response, which failed to engage with the main thrust of the inquiry’s conclusions: namely that the rights and responsibilities over the seabed and foreshore should be devolved to the local level in Scotland, to the level of the people living and working with these assets.
“When we got the response we vowed to follow up with the witnesses to our inquiry and see how matters of rural land ownership and development can best be progressed, and how we can take forward the issues of importance to local people. This meeting in Inverness is an opportunity to do that, and for the Committee to maintain its involvement in the issues raised in evidence to our inquiry.”
He added :“The Crown Estate will be invited to this meeting clarify how they intend to operate in future.”