Powers over the revenue and management of the Crown Estate’s Scottish resources – including 750 marine aquaculture leases – were transferred from Westminster to the Scottish Government this week.
As of April 1, Scottish Ministers now have control over the management of large swathes of Scotland’s land and seas. As well as the marine aquaculture leases, which generate gross revenues of £3.5 million a year, the Crown assets include approximately half Scotland’s foreshore, leasing the seabed for rights to renewable energy and thousands of hectares of rural land.
While the Crown is still the owner of the assets, the new body Crown Estate Scotland (Interim Management) will run them, while ministers seek to finalise a long-term strategy that will include opportunities to place local communities at the heart of the new arrangements for managing assets, which in total were worth £271.8 million in 2015/16 and generated a gross annual revenue of £14 million.
Alex Adrian, Aquaculture Operations Manager at Crown Estate Scotland, told The Fish Site that, at least for the time being, it should be business as usual for the aquaculture sector.
“This is an exciting time for the new organisation and for aquaculture more generally. We very much looking forward to working closely with our Chair Amanda Bryan and the Board to continue to support our tenants across the sector. All existing leases remain unchanged, as does the aquaculture team here at Crown Estate Scotland, but if tenants do have any queries please do get in touch with us,” he said.
Making the announcement on April 1st, Land Reform Secretary Roseanna Cunningham said: “This is a historic day. The management and resources of the Crown Estate now rest with the people of Scotland and we have a genuine, once in a lifetime opportunity to use them to change the fabric of Scottish society, placing the needs of local and coastal communities at the centre of our long-term planning for these considerable assets.
Scott Landsburgh, Chief Executive of the Scottish Salmon Producers’ Organisation (SSPO), told The Fish Site that the outcome of the transitional period could be beneficial to the Scottish salmon sector.
“This is a period of transition with interim arrangements in place to help with the transfer of powers from the Treasury to the Scottish Parliament. We look forward to hearing how the Scottish Parliament will legislate on the long-term framework, in order to manage these assets appropriately,” he said.