Plaid Cymru call for Crown Estate green wealth fund
Plaid Cymru Treasury spokesperson, Ben Lake MP has called for a proportion of the proceeds from leasing and licensing the Welsh Crown Estate to be used to create a wealth fund.
Speaking during a debate on Energy Infrastructure on Wednesday (5 July), Ben Lake MP said that if management of the Crown Estate was devolved to Wales, profits from renewable energy generated on the Welsh Crown Estate could go to “benefit future generation by way of a wealth fund”.
Countries like Norway and Qatar have implemented similar strategies for managing revenues from oil and other fossil fuel sources.
Ben Lake said applying the same principle to renewable energy resources, particularly offshore wind development along the south-west Wales coast, could be a “buffer against future economic shocks”.
The Crown Estate is an independent company which belongs to the monarch for the duration of their reign, though the revenue from its £16bn property portfolio flows directly to the Treasury.
Plaid Cymru have long called for the management of the Crown Estate to be devolved to Wales, as is the case in Scotland.
Last week, the Crown Estate announced a record £442.6 million net revenue profit, £129.9 million higher than last year.
The Crown Estate said that this increase primarily reflects option fee income from the signing of Agreements for Lease for six offshore wind farms through the Round 4 leasing programme and revenue resilience in its other lines of business.
Speaking in the House of Commons, Ben Lake MP said: “Plaid Cymru has long held aspirations to see management of the Crown Estate devolved to Wales. That is a debate in itself, and I will not retread some of that old ground. However, there are some ideas and potential benefits that the UK Government might want to explore further.
“Management of the Crown Estate in Wales could give the Welsh Government the opportunity to allocate a proportion of the proceeds from leasing and licensing to benefit future generations by way of, in effect, a wealth fund.
“That is not a novel idea—other countries such as Norway and Qatar have done it in the past for oil and other fossil fuel sources, rather than for renewable energy—but perhaps we could be doing that in the renewables context. I would be keen to hear whether the Minister thinks that has some mileage.
“A 2008 study by PwC found that the UK could have built up £450 billion had it put tax receipts from oil and gas fields into such a fund from the beginning of the exploitation of gas in the North sea.
“We could learn a lesson from that and start investing now to create a fund that could serve as a buffer against future economic shocks, which is particularly important given the likely impact of climate change on the world economy in the coming decades.”
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