Community Land Scotland

Community Land Scotland 

The Crown Estate – Policy Briefing 


Community Land Scotland is the representative organisation of Scotland’s community land owners. Together, the members of Community Land Scotland own some 500,000 acres and use that land ownership as the basis for social and economic development, the regeneration of their respective communities, and in growing more sustainable and resilient communities.
In the context of current debate about the future of the Crown Estate (see note 1), Community Land Scotland’s members own substantial areas of coastline, and have ambition for the greater and sustainable utilisation of the marine assets adjoining their land, and to see it managed in tandem with the management of their land based assets.


Policy Summary 


1. The Crown Estate is in need of radical reform.


2. The current arrangements for the operation and management of the Crown Estate in Scotland are not the best structure for proper governance, accountability, openness and transparency. 


3. The Crown Estate requires to be scrutinised and to be accountable to the Scottish Parliament in relation to its activities in Scotland which are of relevance to devolved functions and responsibilities. 


4. Scottish Ministers should have powers in relation to any ongoing appointment of Commissioners and to direct the activities of the Crown Estate in Scotland. If a Commissioner from Scotland is to remain within a UK Commission, they should be called the `Scottish Commissioner’ and the post be vested through the office of the First Minister.


5. Whatever the outcome of the current debate about where control of the Crown Estate should lie, significant reforms are required to the operations of the Crown Estate.


6. That reform should embrace the principle of subsidiarity (see note 2). Such an approach will contribute to government policy on the economic development of communities, supporting the development of community resilience and community empowerment. 


7. The devolution of the powers of the Crown Estate should be to the level most appropriate to that function’s administration and to bodies which can be held accountable locally for decisions. Depending on the function and the level of responsibility, this might be at the Scottish, local authority, or community owned land level or, in some instances, jointly between any of the parties.


8. Where land is held by local communities and controlled and managed through a local democratic mandate (under the Terms of the Land Reform (Scotland) Act, or otherwise as agreed by Ministers), those communities should have the right to take over appropriate local responsibilities of the Crown Estate where that can be shown to be consistent with policies designed to promote local economic development, local community resilience and community empowerment, and where the community has the capacity to manage such responsibilities adequately. Other communities, which may not own their land, but which have an interest, and can be properly constituted and locally accountable, might also wish to take control of Crown Estate assets. Income derived locally from any such assets would stay local and for local decision making. 


9. The Crown Estate should have its statutory duties amended , potentially by means of creating new duties, and certainly by way of suitable powers, to contribute to the promotion of economic and social development and the empowering of any community which exists on any land held by the Crown Estate or of any coastal community immediately adjoining its shoreline and seabed interests.


10. The Crown Estate should have powers to dispose of any of its interests (including at nominal or at nil value) to other public or properly constituted and non profit distributing community bodies, for the purpose of the ownership and/or management of any assets held (with a potential power to regain such assets were they ever proposed for subsequent disposal by the public or community body concerned).


11. The Crown Estate should have suitable powers to make grants and loans in pursuit of its new statutory purposes and to enter into joint ventures with others.


12. The Crown Estate should be placed under a duty to show that they have had regard to local community interest when assigning offshore leases, and should account to Parliament on how this duty has been delivered.


13. Revenue accruing from the marine assets should flow to coastal communities as a matter of right. 


14. With greater community control of local Crown Estate assets, consistent with UK and Scottish government policies, greater consideration of local needs and more integrated local resource management can be achieved, and significant economic and social impacts secured, to assist the development of sustainable, resilient communities.