Crown Estate money totalling £1.7 million is to be split between all the council wards in the Western Isles.
The money is the Western Isles share of £7.5 million of revenue generated from the Scottish Crown Estate’s marine assets, in the first year of devolved management.
The national share was calculated by Scottish Government in consultation with COSLA, based on each council’s share of the adjacent sea area. The £1.7 million share for Na h-Eileanan an Iar was allocated to Comhairle nan Eilean Siar as initial recipient for the revenues.
At the time of the allocation, in October 2019, Comhairle leader Roddie Mackay said that a protocol would be put in place for disbursement to communities.
It’s now understood that every ward in the Western Isles is to get a share of the cash for expenditure on infrastructure and amenities, with hub groups to be set up in the next few weeks in each ward area to discuss distribution.
There are nine council wards in the Western Isles, meaning that if the cash were to split on a straight proportional basis each ward would see just under £190,000. Distribution is, however, as likely to be in proportion to ward population or according to some other demographic formula.
Welcoming the funding allocation from Scottish Government last year, Comhairle leader Councillor Roddie Mackay said: “As a result of vigorous lobbying by the Comhairle and others, the Smith Commission of 2014 recommended that these revenues be returned to the communities hosting the developments and now Scottish Ministers are honouring that recommendation with £1.7m of Scottish Crown Estate revenues returning to the Outer Hebrides from the first year of devolved management.
“We are now starting to see real, tangible benefits from our many years of sustained lobbying – our communities will now have a say in how the marine estate is developed and revenues from these developments will now return to those same communities.”
Representatives of the North Harris Trust and West Harris Trust met the board of Crown Estate Scotland in 2018 at Talla na Mara in Harris to discuss the management of Crown Estate Scotland land. (Picture from Crown Estate Scotland).