Last weekend, Yes Cymru groups across Wales held a series of events called, “Banners on Beaches” to highlight the Welsh Government pledge to devolve the management of the Crown Estate in Wales.
For those not familiar with The Crown Estate, its’ 2020/21 report states that The Crown Estate manages marine and land assets in Wales. Areas of responsibility include “the seabed out to 12 nautical miles”. They also state that their interests include renewable energy, along with oil and gas pipelines, marine aggregate extraction, telecommunications and power cables.
In addition, they hold the rights to the resources on the continental shelf, such as natural resources and offshore energy, but excluding fossil fuels. They also manage around 65 per cent of the Welsh foreshore and riverbed, which includes a number of ports, such as the “multi-functional” port of Milford Haven, and various marinas.
They own over 50,000 acres of Welsh uplands and common land.
They also state that they are responsible for “around 250,000 acres of mineral-only interests, with eight sites currently leased for mineral extraction”, and they also manage “the rights to deposits of gold and silver, known as Mines Royal. There is one Mines Royal lease and two pending Mines Royal leases. There are six current Mines Royal options and one pending option”.
The report goes on to state that the value of their agriculture portfolio in Wales increased during the year from £0.6 million to £2.2 million and their marine portfolio in Wales increased significantly from £49.2 million to £549.1 million. The total value of the Crown Estate’s assets in Wales during 2020/21 was £603 million. These are not insignificant sums.
It is worth noting that the Crown Estate in Scotland was devolved to the Scottish Government in 2016, and the Welsh Government is calling for devolution of the Crown Estate in Wales following the Labour-Plaid Co-operation Agreement and the recommendations of The Climate Change, Environment and Infrastructure Committee in February.
However, when responding to a question last week by Cynon Valley MP Beth Winter on the devolution of the Crown Estate in Wales, the UK Government minister for Business, Energy and Clean Growth, Greg Hands, asked MPs to “point out what the problem is”. This echoes similar comments made by Welsh Secretary, Simon Hart.
However, these comments underscore the points raised by Welsh Government – that income derived from the Crown Estate in Wales should be owned by the people of Wales and used for expenditure WITHIN Wales.
According to Office for National Statistics published in 2019, the Central and Gwent Valleys were amongst the ten poorest areas in the UK, and gross domestic product per head of population in Wales was the second lowest in the UK at £23,866.
Add to this, a cost of living crisis that will impact the poorest in our communities, and a persuasive case should be made for the devolution of the Crown Estate in Wales.
£8.7 million in profits was generated from the Crown Estate in Wales last year. How much of this money could be used to invest in our communities? Or be used to help Wales invest in renewable energy?
Yes Cymru Milford Haven supports the campaign to devolve the Crown Estate in Wales. More information can be found at Yes Cymru’s official social media pages and a petition to support the campaign can be found at Change.org.
This is an article written by Yes Milford Haven and published in the Pembrokeshire Herald newspaper on 17.06.2022