Renewed calls for devolution of Crown Estate to Wales following £1 billion offshore energy windfall
Plaid Cymru has renewed calls for the devolution of the Crown Estate to Wales, following the Estate’s confirmation of six new offshore wind energy lease agreements, worth an estimated £1 billion.
In response to the bonanza, announced on 19 January, the King had asked for profits from the new leases to be used for the “wider public good” rather than as a funding boost for the monarchy.
A Buckingham Palace spokesperson said: “In view of the offshore energy windfall, the Keeper of the Privy Purse has written to the Prime Minister and Chancellor to share the King’s wish that this windfall be directed for wider public good, rather than to the Sovereign Grant, through an appropriate reduction in the proportion of Crown Estate surplus that funds the Sovereign Grant.”
Ms Saville Roberts has long called for profits from renewable energy generation off the Welsh coastline to be reinvested into the communities of Wales rather than to go to the UK Treasury.
Plaid Cymru has also pressed for the devolution of the Crown Estate to Wales, as has been the case in Scotland since 2017.
In a letter to Sir Michael Stevens, Keeper of the Privy Purse, Ms Saville Roberts said that given the King’s support for profits to be directed for the “wider public good”, and that environmental matters and natural resources are devolved matters, that the Palace should consider directing the money to the people of Wales, via the Welsh Government, rather than to the UK Treasury.
In her letter, the MP for Dwyfor Meirionnydd writes: “In light of the offshore energy windfall from which the Crown Estate will benefit in coming years, I understand that the King has indicated his preference for the percentage of the Sovereign Grant to be reduced so that more of the Crown Estate’s profits can be ‘directed for wider public good’.
“This comes following the news that the Crown Estate has signed leasing agreements for six offshore wind projects which together will result in revenue of close to £1bn for the Crown Estate every year. One of the six projects will be located off the North Wales coast, reminding us of the historic opportunity offshore wind represents for the Welsh economy.
“As I understand, the Crown Estate is also developing plans to lease further areas of the seabed in the Celtic Sea to floating offshore wind developers.
“As you may be aware, management of the Crown Estate in Wales is reserved to Westminster, while in Scotland management of the Crown Estate has been devolved to Scottish Government since 2017.
“There is growing support in Wales for Welsh Government to receive the same powers as Scotland so that the people of Wales are able to benefit directly from the economic opportunities presented by the potential for renewable energy production on land held by the Crown Estate.
“My Private Member’s Bill, the Crown Estate (Devolution to Wales) Bill, received cross-party support in the 2021-22 parliamentary session. Given that environmental matters and natural resources are devolved to the Senedd, we believe that profits from renewable energy generation should be reinvested into the communities of Wales – not to Treasury coffers.
“I would urge you to explore further the devolution of powers over the Crown Estate in Wales to Welsh Government, in particular with your fellow Royal Trustees; and ask that this matter is raised in any further communication with the Treasury regarding the Sovereign Grant.”
It is not clear as to the exact amount of taxpayer funding the King has passed up and asked to be used for public good, but it is likely to be many millions.
The Crown Estate – an ancient portfolio of land and property – belongs to the reigning monarch ‘in right of The Crown’ but it is not their private property.
The monarch surrenders the revenue from the Estate – more than £312 million a year – to the Treasury each year for the benefit of the nation’s finances, in exchange for the Sovereign Grant which covers the running costs of the royal household and events such as official receptions, investitures and garden parties.
The Grant goes up if Crown Estate profits increase, but it does not fall when they decrease.
The capital value of the portfolio is more than £15 billion.
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