Crown Estate Devolution

Publication Date01 September 2016
Date01 September 2016
<p>One of the Smith Commission's more significant recommendations was that responsibility for managing the Crown Estate in Scotland, and the revenue generated from it, should be transferred to the Scottish Parliament.<xref ref-type="fn" rid="fn1"><sup>1</sup></xref> The Crown Estate is currently managed on a UK-wide basis by the Crown Estate Commissioners under the <a href="">Crown Estate Act 1961</a> (“<a href="">CEA</a>”). Its origins date back to 1760, when George III surrendered the revenues from Crown lands to parliament in return for support via the civil list, an arrangement confirmed by each subsequent monarch. Today the Crown Estate consists of a mixture of hereditary Crown property rights, more recent rights vested in the Crown by statute, and modern property acquisitions. It does <italic>not</italic> comprise the entirety of Crown property rights, nor is it the personal property of the sovereign. It is, in effect, a publicly-owned property business, the revenues from which accrue to the UK Treasury.</p> <p>The Crown Estate's holdings in Scotland are legally and historically distinct, having not been surrendered until 1830, and brought under common management by the <a href="">Crown Lands Act 1833</a>. They include: a small amount of urban and commercial property; several large rural estates; rights to salmon fishing, gold, silver, and other reserved minerals; internal waterways; and – most significantly – the so-called “marine estate”. The latter includes around 50% of the foreshore, and almost all the seabed within Scotland's territorial waters, including aquaculture and mooring rights. The Crown Estate also exercises rights over the seabed and subsoil in the UK continental shelf, including minerals other than coal and hydrocarbons,<xref ref-type="fn" rid="fn2"><sup>2</sup></xref> and has been granted rights over offshore renewable energy production<xref ref-type="fn" rid="fn3"><sup>3</sup></xref> and gas storage.<xref ref-type="fn" rid="fn4"><sup>4</sup></xref> In 2013–2014, the Crown Estate's Scottish holdings were worth £267 million and generated £13.6 million gross revenue.<xref ref-type="fn" rid="fn5"><sup>5</sup></xref></p> <p>Securing agreement to devolve the Crown Estate was a significant victory for the Scottish Government. In 2009, the Calman Commission had rejected its argument for devolution,<xref ref-type="fn" rid="fn6"><sup>6</sup></xref> and an attempt to amend what became the <a href="">Scotland Act 2012</a> was also unsuccessful.<xref ref-type="fn" rid="fn7"><sup>7</sup></xref> However, the case for devolution was subsequently strengthened by the publication of several reports critical of the operation of the Crown Estate in Scotland.<xref ref-type="fn" rid="fn8"><sup>8</sup></xref> Particularly important was the highly effective campaign by Scotland's islands councils during the independence referendum arguing for control over the marine estate,<xref ref-type="fn" rid="fn9"><sup>9</sup></xref> something which required the prior transfer of control to the Scottish Parliament. Indeed, the Smith Commission specifically recommended that there should be further devolution to council level following devolution to Holyrood.<xref ref-type="fn" rid="fn10"><sup>10</sup></xref></p> <p>However, when the UK Government published its draft clauses in January 2015,<xref ref-type="fn" rid="fn11"><sup>11</sup></xref> the complex approach taken to Crown Estate devolution caused some consternation, with the Scottish Government alleging that it did not fulfil the spirit of the Smith Commission's recommendation.<xref ref-type="fn" rid="fn12"><sup>12</sup></xref> Nevertheless, despite attempts by the Scottish Government and others to secure changes, the clause survived largely intact, with only minor, clarificatory amendments made by the UK Government. Some aspects of what became <span class="vid_spn">section 36 of the Scotland Act 2016</span> (“SA 2016”) came into...</p>

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