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Crown Estate Scotland
Oighreachd a' Chrùin Alba
Crown Estate Scotland logo.png
Public Corporation overview
Formed 1 April 2017 (2017-04-01)
Preceding Public Corporation
Jurisdiction Scotland
Headquarters 6 Bells Brae, Edinburgh, EH4 3BJ
Minister responsible
  • Roseanna Cunningham, Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform
Public Corporation executive
  • Simon Hodge, Chief Execuitve

Crown Estate Scotland (Scottish Gaelic: Oighreachd a' Chrùin Alba) is the public corporation of the Scottish Government responsible for the management of land and property in Scotland owned by the monarch in right of the Crown. It is responsible for a range of rural, coastal and marine assets which are held 'in right of the Crown'. The monarch remains the legal owner of these assets, but they do not form the private property of the monarch, and cannot be sold by the monarch. Surplus revenue (i.e. revenue profit) from Crown Estate Scotland does not belong to the monarch, but is paid to the Scottish Consolidated Fund which in turn finances the Scottish Government.

Crown Estate Scotland's main income source is from leases on the property, which is mostly in sectors such as offshore renewables, farming, tourism and aquaculture. The corporation is one of the largest property managers in Scotland, managing assets worth £385.8 million. These include over 37,000 hectares (91,000 acres) of land in rural Scotland, the majority of which is let for farming, residential, commercial, sporting and mineral operations. The estate also has significant holdings in the coastal and marine environment, including virtually all of the seabed out to 12 nautical miles (22 kilometres), rights to lease seabed for renewable energy generation and gas and carbon dioxide storage out to 200 nautical miles (370 kilometres) and just under half of Scotland's foreshore. The corporation works alongside the Scottish Government, Scottish Parliament, local authorities, communities and businesses with the aim to create "lasting value for Scotland".

History

King George III revoked his claim to the income from the crown estates in England in 1790, receiving in return an annual payment known as the civil list from the Treasury. However it was not until 1830 that King William IV revoked the income from the crown estates in Scotland. The hereditary land revenues of The Crown in Scotland, formerly under the management of the Barons of the Exchequer, were transferred to the Commissioners of Woods, Forests, Land Revenues, Works and Buildings and their successors under the Crown Lands (Scotland) Acts of 1832, 1833 and 1835. These holdings mainly comprised former ecclesiastical land (following the abolition of the episcopacy in 1689) in Caithness and Orkney, and ancient royal possession in Stirling and Edinburgh, and feudal dues. There was virtually no urban property. Most of the present Scottish estate excepting foreshore and salmon fishing is due to inward investment, including Glenlivet Estate, the largest area of land managed by the Crown Estate in Scotland, purchased in 1937, Applegirth, Fochabers and Whitehill estates, purchased in 1963, 1937 and 1969 respectively.

After winning the 2011 Scottish election, the Scottish National Party (SNP) called for the devolution of the Crown Estate income to Scotland. In response to this demand, the Scotland Office decided against dividing up the Crown Estates, however plans were developed to allocate some of the Crown Estate income to the Big Lottery Fund, which would then distribute funds to coastal communities. Following the 2014 Scottish independence referendum, there were calls for more powers to be devolved from the United Kingdom Parliament to the Scottish Parliament. The Smith Commission was announced by Prime Minister David Cameron, with Lord Smith of Kelvin asked to "convene cross-party talks and facilitate an inclusive engagement process across Scotland to produce, by 30 November 2014, Heads of Agreement with recommendations for further devolution of powers to the Scottish Parliament". On 27 November 2014, the Commission published a number of recommendations, which included that "responsibility for the management of the Crown Estate's economic assets in Scotland, including the Crown Estate's seabed and mineral and fishing rights, and the revenue generated from these assets, [should] be transferred to the Scottish Parliament."

A bill based on the Smith Commission's recommendations became law as the Scotland Act 2016 in March 2016. This made provision for the devolution for the management and revenues of Crown Estate assets in Scotland. Crown Estate Scotland was established by The Crown Estate Scotland (Interim Management) Order 2017. Under The Crown Estate Transfer Scheme 2017, the existing functions of the Crown Estate Commissioners and the rights and liabilities set out in the transfer scheme transferred from the Crown Estate Commissioners to Crown Estate Scotland on 1 April 2017. Prior to the handover, the Crown Estate owned a multi-million stake in the Fort Kinnaird retail park which represented about 60% of the value of all Crown assets in Scotland. This was not passed to Crown Estates Scotland with other Scottish properties in 2016. Two years later, the Crown Estate sold its stake and used the funds to assume full ownership of the Gallagher Retail Park in Cheltenham.

Assets

Crown Estate Scotland is responsible for managing:

  • 37,000 hectares of rural land with agricultural tenancies, residential and commercial properties and forestry on four rural estates (Glenlivet, Fochabers, Applegirth and Whitehill)
  • Salmon and sea trout fishing rights on many Scottish rivers
  • Around half the foreshore around Scotland including 5,800 moorings and some ports and harbours
  • Leasing of virtually all seabed out to 12 nmi (22 km) covering some 750 fish farming sites and agreements with cables & pipeline operators
  • The rights to offshore renewable energy and gas and carbon storage out to 200 nmi (370 km)
  • Mineral rights over naturally occurring gold and silver across most of Scotland
  • Retail and office units at 39-41 George Street Edinburgh

Although The Crown has first claim on all "royal fish" (whales which measure more than 25 feet (7.6 m) from the snout to the middle of the tail) found dead or stranded in Scottish waters, since 1999 this right has been administered by the Scottish Government's Marine Directorate, and royal fish do not become the property of Crown Estate Scotland. Similarly, assets that have no owner (bona vacantia) also revert to The Crown, but in Scotland such assets are dealt with by the Queen's and Lord Treasurer's Remembrancer.

Management and governance

Crown Estate Scotland is a public corporation of the Scottish Government, i.e. a commercial enterprise under government control. As such it is managed by a board whose members and chair are appointed by Ministers. Board members are appointed to serve for a two or three year term, and may not serve for longer than eight years in total. The board appoints a Chief Executive, who is responsible for day-to-day running of the body and is accountable to the board. As of January 2020 the Chief Executive was Simon Hodge.

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