Wales could reap benefits of a ‘green gold rush’ through Crown Estate Devolution Bill
Liz Saville Roberts MP presents Bill that would see Wales benefiting from green energy transition instead of Treasury and Royal Family
Plaid Cymru Westminster leader, Liz Saville Roberts MP, this week presented the Crown Estate (Devolution to Wales) Bill to the House of Commons, which would allow Wales to reap the benefits of a “green gold rush”, according to the MP.
In the year to March 31 2021, the value of the Crown Estate’s marine assets in England, Wales and Northern Ireland has more than doubled, rising from £2 billion to £4.1 billion. This was largely driven by an auction of seabed leases for offshore wind development in February 2021 which could raise £879 million per year, or £8.8 billion over the next ten years, for the Treasury.
The February auction included ‘Bidding Area 4’ comprising northern Wales and the Irish Sea, covering 8,500 km2. The Crown Estate pays its profits to the Treasury, which normally pays 25 per cent of this to Buckingham Palace in the form of a ‘sovereign grant’.
Ms Saville Roberts said the new figures revealed the “absurdity of the current devolution settlement”, when the UK Treasury and Royal Family can profit from Welsh natural resources despite the fact that the Welsh Government holds many of the powers relevant to the administration of the Crown Estate. These include the responsibility for renewable energy promotion and powers of consent of energy projects (up to 350 megawatts).
Since 2017, the Crown Estate in Scotland has been devolved to the Scottish Government. Surplus revenue from Crown Estate Scotland is paid to the Scottish Consolidated Fund which in turn finances the Scottish Government.
The Crown Estate (Devolution to Wales) Bill would see the Crown Estate being treated in the same manner in Wales as in Scotland, giving the Welsh Government access to surplus revenue from the Crown Estate in Wales. Ms Saville Roberts said that this would address the “anachronism” that exists under the current system.
Liz Saville Roberts MP said:
“Today’s figures reveal the absurdity of the current devolution settlement and the inequalities of ownership in the United Kingdom. There is no just explanation for why, after twenty years of devolution, the UK Treasury and Royal Family still profit from Welsh natural resources while Wales loses out.
“The Welsh Government holds many of the powers relevant to the administration of the Crown Estate, including the responsibility for renewable energy promotion as well powers of consent of energy projects up to 350 megawatts. Yet, it has no powers over the leasing of the seabed. That anachronism must be addressed.
“That’s why this week, I presented a Bill to Parliament that would devolve the territorial assets and responsibilities of the Crown Estate in Wales to the Welsh Government, as has been the case in Scotland since 2017. While the UK and Scottish Government reap the benefits of a green gold rush, Wales is missing out. I will be urging Members from across the House of Commons to support my Bill.”