Comment posted Crown Estate Commissioners hang on like limpets to Scottish rights by Andrew Reid.
Good to see that you are still pursuing and publishing on the Crown Estate. But one variation from the article. The Crown Estate’s Annual Report and Accounts do provide material for the whole UK under each of its main budget areas. Its Scottish Report provides data about Scottish income and expenditure under the same budget headings, so it is possible to analyse its performance in Scotland on its own and against the position for the UK as a whole. A year ago I created an Excel table to complete a Scottish/UK analysis and comparison for 2001 and 2011, and will update that with the 2012 figures – happy to provide that to anyone interested in the statistics if they e-mail me on: firstname.lastname@example.org;
Recent comments by Andrew Reid
- One real issue and some strange arguments against Cove Community Wind Farm
The focus of the For Argyll article is a local community with a reducing population of children, and adults of working age – schools threatened, and with little local employment or affordable housing. The article appreciates that the community Is trying to sustain itself and bring about improvements by using a natural energy resource in plentiful local supply, i.e. the wind. Although there are different opinions on every wind farm planning application, Cove Community Wind Farm has gained majority support from peninsula residents in all tests of public opinion. There is a complete spectrum of personal views from pleasure to offence in the surrounding area about the visual impact of the proposed development. The very detailed Landscape and Visual Impact Assessment submitted with the planning application reaches the conclusion that there would be moderate adverse visual impact across Loch Long, and this professional opinion was also reached by the National Park officers, who wrote the Report submitted to the National Trust Board, albeit the Board took a different view. Within the range of opinions, the view taken in the For Argyll article that the Peninsula and Loch Long exist within an environment, which includes industrial bases and built structures, seems entirely legitimate. The article also makes the entirely relevant point about renewable development being an essential response to climate change. Finally, the article properly asks what alternative there is to raise the same level of funding for community investment? The Community Development Trust and its 400 members have not found any alternative, and will continue to pursue what they see as the best approach to fund community development from which 100% of the “profits” would be used for the benefit of local communities.
- Labour seek review of Scottish Ministerial Code – but why now?
Unfortunately, For Argyll seems to have missed the letter which was printed in the Sunday Herald on 11 November, a week after the article to which For Argyll refers. Although the letter was written by Fiona Wilson, Scottish Government Head of News and therefore might normally merit a degree of scepticism , I have not seen the facts challenged since then, and they may explain why the Labour Party reduce the pace on that particular issue. The letter printed in the Sunday Herald said:
“I write to correct claims in your article (How ministers rewrote the rules to hide lack of EU legal advice, News, November 4). The Ministerial Code was not rewritten in an attempt to avoid questions raised by Catherine Stihler MEP in relation to an independent Scotland’s place in the European Union, as opposition parties had claimed. You report that “the code was rewritten in December “. This is incorrect. Changes to the code were initiated by officials in April 2011, prior to the Scottish Parliament election. Ms Stihler’s Freedom of Information request was not submitted until May 2011, by which time the draft text under section 2.35, that the Sunday Herald highlights, relating to “the fact that legal advice has or has not been given”, had already been amended by officials. The Scottish Information Commissioner considers appeals based on the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act. The Ministerial Code is for the guidance of ministers in their conduct. These changes had no impact at all in the commissioner’s consideration of the Stihler appeal.
There are certainly worthwhile stories and comment on the accuracy of recent ministerial statements and the way that opposition parties are going about their business currently. But, the particular story about changes to the ministerial code may well not be worth pursuing any further.
- Public meeting on inspirational Cove Community Wind Farm
The Rosneath Peninsula West Trust Board has actually been concerned to consider how to share the benefits of Cove Wind Farm income, and is at the point of meeting with representative bodies in neighbouring communities to talk about its external community benefit policy and the overall development. If we can deliver this project, we believe that the whole peninsula will benefit.
- No Tiree Array on basking sharks, night time visuals and divergent wind subsidy regimes between Scotland and Westminster
A very recent New Statesman piece highlighted that the decision, libdem achievement and DECC public relations spin were not all that they seemed.
‘Who runs Britain’s energy policy?
‘A smaller cut in wind power funding comes at the cost of a commitment to decades more of dirty and expensive gas.
‘BY GUY SHRUBSOLE PUBLISHED 27 JULY 2012 14:34
‘Who runs Britain’s energy policy? We have a Department of Energy and Climate Change – you might think from their name that they do. Or perhaps it’s Chancellor George Osborne’s Treasury that calls the shots? Now you’re getting warmer.
‘This week’s announcement by the Energy Secretary, Ed Davey, that he had secured only a 10 per cent cut in wind power funding, was heavily spun as a victory for the Lib Dem-run department. Given that the Treasury had been demanding 25 per cent cuts, this seemed a victory indeed – but one with a huge hidden cost. Because, as payment for this victory, Davey has been forced to quietly concede to another of the Treasury’s demands: a commitment to decades more of dirty and expensive gas.
‘We know this to be the Chancellor’s wishes, because on Monday someone leaked a letter – effectively a ransom note – that he had sent to Davey outlining his position. In it, Osborne demanded that the Energy Secretary issue “a statement which gives a clear, strong signal that we regard unabated gas as able to play a core part of our electricity generation to at least 2030 – not just providing back-up for wind plant”.
‘Acceding to this outrageous demand would mean seriously jeopardising the UK’s fight against climate change. As the Government’s independent advisors, the Committee on Climate Change, stated in response: “This would all lead to a second dash for gas. This would be incompatible with the government’s climate change goals.”
‘But on Wednesday, DECC dutifully trotted out a press release stating that “the Government… is today confirming that it sees gas continuing to play an important part in the energy mix well into and beyond 2030”. Some victory.
‘The exchange has also highlighted the hypocrisy of the Treasury in its assessment of what merits public subsidy, and what must go without.
‘Osborne stated in his letter to Davey: “While your proposals [on renewables funding] achieve some savings we will still be paying more than £500m more to support renewable generation in 2013-14 than we collectively agreed was affordable”. No-one disputes that as technology costs come down, public funding for renewables should decline; the renewables industry itself was offering up 10 per cent cuts.
‘But wait; what’s this? On Wednesday, as DECC announced its cuts to renewables funding, the Treasury simultaneously unveiled £500m of tax breaks for offshore gas drilling. What’s unaffordable to spend on clean energy suddenly becomes eminently affordable to spend on drilling up the dirty stuff.
‘Enough is enough. The Chancellor must be prevented from undermining the UK’s green economy – as the CBI recently stated, it’s one of the few parts of the economy still growing. A high-carbon energy system will lock the UK in to a high-cost as well as high-polluting future. So in whose interests is the Chancellor acting?
‘It’s now up to David Cameron and Nick Clegg to back their Energy Minister over the Chancellor. They should insist that the Energy Bill includes a target to decarbonise the UK’s electricity system by 2030 and unlocks support for clean British energy. The alternative energy strategy that George Osborne would have us follow is a dirty and dangerous dead end.’
- Confusion on Coastal Communities Fund
It’s a side issue in relation to the Coastal Communities Fund, but by funding the Royal family from Crown Estate profits (you’re right – 15%), which are likely to significantly increase as bits of the ocean are rented out for offshore wind farms, the Royal family will secure substantial additional income, without this being subject to the public scrutiny which would be applied following Treasury announcements concerning the normal route of public funding. Politics has obviously played a large part in the Coastal Communities Fund, not only through the extraordinary bypassing of the Scottish Government in making the funds available through the Big Lottery, but also in the way that the Chief Secretary to the Treasury is clearly trying to buy Lib Dem votes in the former Liberal heartlands right down the West Coast through the usual obvious dannymandering.
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