Smith Commission to transfer Crown Estate’s Scottish seabed assets to Scottish Parliament

The Smith Commission report, established to investigate devolution matters following the Scottish Referendum, has recommended the transfer of the Scottish seabed to the Scottish Parliament.
Smith Commission to transfer Crown Estate’s Scottish seabed assets to Scottish Parliament

The seabed around the UK coastline has, hitherto, been owned and managed by the Crown Estate which has also acted as a partner in the development of offshore wind farms in UK waters. The recommendation of the Smith Commission is that responsibility for the management of the Crown Estate’s economic assets in Scotland, along with the revenue generated from them, should be transferred to the Scottish Parliament. This will include the Scottish seabed and the Scottish foreshore.

Following the transfer, responsibility for these assets will be devolved to local authority areas such as Orkney, Shetland Na h-Eilean Siar and other areas. The Scottish and UK Governments will draw up and agree a Memorandum of Understanding in relation to matters such as defence & security, oil & gas and energy

“We note the recommendations of the Smith Commission, in particular that management of Crown Estate assets in Scotland should “be transferred to the Scottish Parliament” said a spokesperson for the Crown Estate. “We will help inform how this recommendation can work in practice as it moves through to legislation. The Crown Estate has continued to deliver successfully against the commercial remit set for it by the UK Parliament, delivering over £2bn for the public finances over the last 10 years. The outcome of the Smith Commission recognises a clear issue of principle in Scotland regarding direct control of the activities and assets for which The Crown Estate is currently responsible. Until the legislation has been enacted and a transition plan is complete, we will continue to manage our business in line with our existing remit and values and will keep customers, staff and other partners informed throughout.”

Niall Stuart, Chief Executive of Scottish Renewables, added that the company now needs to work with the Crown Estate on the detail of how devolution would work in practice, thereby ensuring the continued development of wind, wave and tidal power around the Scottish coast.

The report recommends a formal consultative role for the Scottish Government and the Scottish Parliament in designing renewables incentives and the strategic priorities set out in the Energy Strategy and Policy Statement. OFGEM must pay due regard to this and will also lay its annual report and accounts before the Scottish Parliament, additionally submitting reports to, and appearing before, the relevant Scottish Parliament committees.

The report will form the basis for new legislation to be drawn up in the UK.

For additional information:

The Smith Commission

The Crown Estate

Scottish Renewables

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