Why Scotland needs to manage its own seabed
Andrew Leslie (05/06/2014)In Scotland the foreshore and the seabed to a limit of twelve nautical miles belongs to the Crown. So too do the rights to all minerals in the continental shelf, excluding hydrocarbons, out to the 200 nautical mile limit. The Crown Estate also has the right to all naturally occurring mussels and oysters and to all ‘large whales’, not to mention coastal salmon fishing and the right to mine gold and silver. These crown property rights date back well before the Act of Union and indeed before the Union of the crowns. Legally, they are vested in the Crown of Scotland, so differ from those south of the border.
The seabed alone makes up more than half of Scotland’s entire territory, and if you include the 18,000 kilometres of foreshore, it is an even more considerable amount of land. And both are becoming more important to Scotland’s economy with the advent of the offshore renewables industry. But the management of the Scottish Crown Estate was not devolved to Scotland in 1998 and remains reserved to Westminster. It is undertaken by the Crown Estate Commissioners (CEC) whose remit is ‘to manage and enhance its value and the return obtained from it, but with due regard to the requirements of good management’. They are not accountable in any formal way to either Scottish ministers or the Scottish parliament.
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