An independent policy think-tank has criticised the Scot-Govt’s plan to directly-manage the Scottish Crown Estate when new powers over Scotland’s sea-bed are devolved from London to Holyrood next month.
In its recent policy paper on the Scottish Crown Estate – ‘Yet Another Quango’ – Reform Scotland urges Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to ‘resist the creation of a new quango’.
Whatever the ‘Scottish Crown Estate’ is called, and irrespective of its constitution or corporate status, the organisation has a key role in the licensing of the sea-bed and coastal waters with regard to the consenting process for offshore wind energy turbine farms and sub-sea tidal power turbines.
Instead, the non-party-linked Edinburgh-based institute urges her to set out a timetable for the Crown Estate powers to be devolved to Scotland’s local authorities – as was envisaged by the Smith Commission on Mair Devolution for Scotland.
Alison Payne, Research Director at Reform Scotland, explained: “The devolution of the Crown Estate powers is an important moment for Scotland’s evolving governance, and we need to get it right. In that spirit, we are extremely concerned at the Scottish Government’s stated aim to create another quango to manage it.
“Given this, the powers should pass directly to Scottish Ministers, remaining the direct responsibility of the Scottish Government until it can be devolved to local authorities. This would enable the retention of an accountable, transparent and open link to the electorate.
“The Crown Estate should not be devolved to a new quango. It is unnecessary and would lead to unaccountability.
We already have far too many quangos, and setting up another one is the last thing the Scottish Government should be doing.
“Given that the management arrangement is designed only to be temporary, with powers passing to local authorities in time, the creation of a quango makes even less sense.
“The consultation makes it clear that the Scottish Government intends to appoint members of the proposed quango, as well as having the power to direct the body in the exercise of its functions.”