A Holyrood Committee has welcomed the Scottish Crown Estate Bill in a report published yesterday (Wednesday May 30), while also suggesting ways it could be strengthened.

The Scottish Parliament’s Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Committee made a series of recommendations followings its examination of the Scottish Crown Estate Bill.

The Bill sets out the long-term management of Crown Estate assets, including 37,000 hectares of land, seabed, coastlines and rural estates.

The Bill aims to create opportunities for local authorities and community groups to run parts of the estate in a sustainable way.

The Bill covers a wide-range of public assets, including the rights to fish wild salmon and sea trout, the management of ports and harbours and offshore renewable energy sites.

Some of the key points in the report include…

  • The Committee commends the Crown Estate Scotland (Interim Management) on the progress that has already been made in improving communication and engagement across the estate.
  • The Committee particularly welcomes the Bill’s approach towards considering wider environmental factors in estate decision-making processes but believes these could be strengthened further.
  • Devolving the management of some Crown Estate Scotland assets to local authorities and community organisations is a significant recommendation of the Smith Commission and the inclusion of this in the Bill is welcome.
  • Some Scottish Crown Estate assets, such as offshore renewables, energy related assets and other cables and pipelines, should continue to be managed on a national basis. There should, however, remain provision for local authorities to take on the management of such assets where they can clearly demonstrate the appropriate expertise to do so.
  • The Committee recommends the Bill should be amended to ensure the seabed cannot be sold. The Committee believes the seabed is a national asset and should be managed nationally.
  • The Committee is broadly persuaded of the merits of continued national management of Crown Estate Scotland’s four rural estates, but recognises that circumstances may change and it may be desirable to retain the flexibility to have some local management in the future.

Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Committee Convener, Graeme Dey MSP, said:

“The Bill aims to ensure the estate’s assets are managed sustainably by those who are best placed to do so. Whether that’s Crown Estate Scotland, a local authority or community group, this Bill is a welcome step forward in terms of community empowerment.

“Since 2017, the Crown Estate Scotland (Interim Management) has worked hard to engage with the estate’s tenants and to improve communication with them, which is something that tenants have really welcomed.

“The Bill offers an opportunity to build on this approach and to ensure that environmental factors are always at the heart of the Crown Estate in the future.”