Crown Estate should be devolved to Wales and the income spent on tackling climate change says new report
A committee of Senedd Members has called for the devolution of the management of the Crown Estate and its assets in Wales.
In a new report published today, the Climate Change, Environment and Infrastructure Committee recommended that the Crown Estate be devolved and the income spent on tackling climate change.
They called for the Welsh Government to set out its plans, including timescales, for devolving the estate which controls Wales’ seabed out to 12 nautical miles.
It is currently owned by the Queen, who gets 25% of the profits, with the rest going to the UK Treasury.
“We note that the Co-operation Agreement between the Welsh Government and Plaid Cymru supports the devolution of the management of the Crown Estate and its assets in Wales,” the report says.
“We believe that income derived from Welsh marine assets should be returned to Wales, so it can be spent on public policies that support the citizens of Wales and policies that help Wales achieve its net-zero targets.
“This is the situation in Scotland, and we see no good reason why similar arrangements cannot apply to Wales.”
The UK Government has so far resisted any attempt to devolve the Crown Estate to Wales, despite it being devolved to Scotland.
After being questioned on the subject in the House of Commons, the Welsh Secretary Simon Hart said: “The relationship that the Crown Estate enjoys with the UK Government, the Welsh Government and stakeholders works very well.
“I do not think there is any public interest or appetite for altering the terms of that arrangement.”
A petition has been set up calling for the devolution of the Crown Estate to Wales.
In their report, the Senedd Committee also criticised the Welsh Government’s plan for Wales’ marine renewable energy and conservation as “evidence-lacking” and “out of date”.
They called on the Welsh Government to update the plan, saying that care needed to be taken that marine energy developments did not negatively impact Wales’ ecosystems.
The report calls on the Welsh Government to commission an external analysis of their plan especially given the expected growth in marine renewable energy over the next few years to support Wales’ transition to net zero.
The plan, which sets out the Welsh Government’s long-term approach to development in the marine environment, was only adopted in 2019 but it has been criticised by environmental organisations for not doing enough to protect marine ecosystems.
Llyr Gruffydd, Chair of the Climate Change Committee, said: “Wales has over 2,000km of coastline and our marine environment is home to some of the most biologically diverse habitats and species in Europe.
“This coastline also provides huge marine energy opportunities, with generating capacity significant enough to help Wales reach its net zero target.”
But he added that “the Welsh Government’s current marine policy is out of date and lacks the evidence that is necessary to create effective policy in the twenty-first century”.
“There is a delicate balance between capitalising on Wales’ marine resources – waves, winds and tides – while simultaneously protecting and enhancing our ecosystems.
“Unfortunately, if the Welsh Government don’t follow our recommendations, we could be at real risk of getting that balance wrong.”
The inquiry also looked at the Welsh Government’s management of marine conservation sites (known as Marine Protected Areas).
To the Committee’s frustration, it found no evidence to suggest that circumstances have improved over the last four years, with marine specialists testifying to the inquiry that there had been years of inaction.
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