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June 27, 2018

Crown Estate behind the curve?

A bit of a buzz was generated last week by the launch of a new scheme from Crown Estate Scotland who currently manage Crown Estate assets in Scotland. The Local Pilots Scheme is to encourage local authorities and community groups to become involved in the management of Crown Estate land and property. Whilst being wary of raining on parades, this scheme seems behind the curve of mainstream policy – no prospect of these assets ever transferring into local ownership and any surplus revenues to be handed back to the Crown Estate. Where’s the buzz in that?



Crown Estate Scotland has opened up coastline, seabed and rural estates for local management under a new scheme launched on 20th June.

The Local Pilots Scheme enables community bodies and local authorities to take on land and property to test new and innovative ways of sustainable development. Scottish Crown Estate assets include seabed, just under half of Scotland’s foreshore and 37,000 ha of rural land across four estates. These are home to moorings, pontoons, fish farms, agricultural farms and much more.

The scheme is an opportunity for organisations around Scotland, whether a small development trust or a local authority, to develop project proposals designed to improve the economic, social and environmental well-being of their local area using eligible Scottish Crown Estate assets.

Cabinet Secretary for the Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform, Roseanna Cunningham MSP said: “This pilot scheme paves the way for local authorities and local communities to actively manage land, coastline or seabed in a way that directly benefits communities, but also Scotland as a whole by, for example, promoting sustainable development.

“Crown Estate Scotland has a wealth of expertise to share with local authorities and communities, and I look forward to seeing organisations develop and shape their proposed projects. Small changes at a local level can have a big impact on a community – this scheme creates some really exciting opportunities.”

Projects that enhance economic, social, environmental and well-being outcomes are welcome, and the type of agreement and project can vary according to what suits the applicant and the type of asset it relates to.

Crown Estate Scotland Chief Executive, Simon Hodge, said: “Connections to the land and the sea run deep in Scotland, and we really want to involve local people in managing Scottish Crown Estate assets. We’ve designed this scheme, with valuable input from a wide range of organisations. It provides a great opportunity for communities and local authorities who have ideas about how they can use Scottish Crown Estate to enhance sustainable development.

“We’re really keen to hear of innovative proposals that have the support of local people and existing tenants. If you have an idea, please come and speak to us.

“Whatever the project, our staff will work with applicants, helping them to develop their plans. We see this scheme as a collaboration – not just between ourselves and the applicant – but also involving other interest groups who can contribute to the project’s success and potentially widen the benefits.”

Successful applicants who go on to develop their proposed project may receive appropriate remuneration which will cover their expenses, and can, with agreement from Crown Estate Scotland, reinvest capital raised within the project. The balance of the revenue will be paid to Crown Estate Scotland which, in turn, is given to the Scottish Government to contribute to public spending. Projects must maintain and enhance the capital value of the estate and the interests of existing tenants and other users of the estate must be protected.

The Stage One Application process is open until August 16 2018. Crown Estate Scotland encourages any interested group to get in touch and discuss details of their plans. Once applications are in, they will be assessed for eligibility. Viable projects will then progress to Stage Two application when applicants will develop and submit their business plans to meet the criteria. Again, an assessment phase will follow. Scottish Ministers will approve the final selected projects.