Crown Estate Commissioners “unaccountable” say MPs

THE Crown Estate Commissioners should no longer be responsible for maintaining Scotland’s marine and coastal assets, according to the House of Commons’ Scottish Affairs Committee.

In a report published on Monday, the committee said its inquiry into the Commissioners’ work had identified “major issues” including a lack of accountability and transparency, a lack of communication and consultation with local communities, the inappropriateness of the CEC‘s statutory remit for its responsibilities in the marine environment, cash leakage from local economies and other adverse impacts  arising from the way the CEC operates, and limited benefits in Scotland from the CEC’s involvements.

However, the committee’s report suggests that simply devolving the Commissioners’ power to Holyrood “would not address the fundamental problems identified”, and that powers should be devolved to local authorities and even local communities “to the maximum extent possible”.

The Commissioners’ influence on Bute has been most recently felt in the long-running legal battle over the right to levy mooring fees in Kames Bay, off Port Bannatyne, which was finally resolved, in the Commissioners’ favour, after a lengthy hearing at the Court of Session in Edinburgh in November 2009.

Committee chair Ian Davidson MP said: “Considering the nature and extent of the problems identified to us, almost exclusively in relation to the marine and coastal assets in Scotland, we have had to conclude that the CEC should no longer be the body responsible in these areas.”