Wales’ seabed could be mined as part of UK Government plans to extract metals from Crown Estate
Wales’ seabed could be opened up for mining as part of UK Government’s plans to extract key metals and reduce dependence on China.
Ministers have briefed the Telegraph newspaper that they are looking at “the risks and potential for environmentally responsible extraction of minerals from coastal waters”.
The Crown Estate, a collection of lands and holdings in the United Kingdom belonging to the British monarch, currently licences extraction rights in coastal areas off Wales, England, and Northern Ireland,
The Crown Estate in Wales generated £8.7 million in revenue last year, which went into the coffers of the UK Treasury because Westminster still controls it.
Wales’ Climate Change minister Julie James has previously said that it is “outrageous” that the Crown Estate was devolved to Scotland and not Wales.
However last month the UK Government’s Energy Minister Greg Hands said that he didn’t understand the calls to devolve the Crown Estate to Wales, calling on MPs to “point me to what the problem is”.
UK Government ministers have pledged not to support mining licences unless more is known about how the practice affects the environment, they told the Telegraph.
The UK will “continue to contribute to discussions on deep-seabed mining […] pressing for the highest environmental standards,” they said.
Speaking in the Senedd in January, Julie James had said that she “completely” agreed that the Crown Estate should be devolved to Wales.
“It’s completely outrageous that it’s devolved to Scotland and not to us, and that, indeed, the returns from the Crown Estate go straight back to HM Treasury,” she said.
“They don’t even go through the Barnett formula arrangement. So, I have absolutely written to say that we want the Crown Estates devolved, and we want them devolved on the same basis as they are devolved in Scotland.
“However, in the meantime, and in the absence of a government at UK level who seems likely to do that in the foreseeable future, in the meantime, we have also sought to develop a very good relationship with the Crown Estates.
“So, both myself and Lee Waters have met with the Crown Estates to discuss the various potential in the Celtic sea and around the Welsh coast, where Crown Estate land is involved, and, also, actually, on land as well. So, Crown Estates own some land in Wales too.
“We’ve also engaged with them to make sure that we have as much of community ownership, community benefit strand in the auctions that they are conducting, although the money goes, as you say, back to the Treasury. So far, we’ve had an engaged and reasonable reception from them, although that’s no substitute, I absolutely agree, for having the thing devolved to us.”
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