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What is Crown Estate Scotland?

Crown Estate Scotland is a public corporation, which invests in property, natural resources and people to create lasting value for Scotland. 

Our team manage seabed, coastline, rural estates and more, helping ensure families, businesses and communities can live, work and thrive on the assets which make up the Scottish Crown Estate.

We are a self-funding body. We are not funded by Scottish Government. The money we use to run the business and invest is raised through the managing the Estate. Revenue profits are passed to Scottish Government (see Q2) for public spending.

We are a separate entity from The Crown Estate, which operates in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

What makes up the Scottish Crown Estate?

The assets which make up the Scottish Crown Estate include:

  • Virtually all seabed out to 12 nautical miles
  • Just under half the foreshore
  • Four rural estates comprising 37,000 hectares of rural land
  • Rights to fish wild salmon and sea trout in in river and coastal areas
  • Rights to naturally occurring gold and silver across most of Scotland
  • A commercial retail and office property in central Edinburgh

Technically these assets are owned by the Monarch ‘in right of the Crown’ (see Q3 below) but our revenue profit (sometimes called ‘net revenue’) goes to the Scottish Consolidated Fund and then to Scottish Government.  It is the responsibility of Scottish Ministers to decide how the revenue profit  used.

Do you work for the Queen?

No. Our assets are held 'in right of The Crown'. This means that, while the Monarch is the legal owner, they are not the Monarch’s private property and cannot be sold by the Monarch, nor do revenues from the estate belong to the Monarch. 

How does Crown Estate Scotland earn income?

We primarily get our income from leases on the property that we manage, usually in the form of rent – just like renting a house or a car.

Tenants rent rural property, the seabed, foreshore, urban property and certain mineral and fishing rights. Information on income and property value can be found in our annual reports. See here for more information.

Will the management of Crown Estate assets in Scotland be devolved locally?

The Scottish Crown Estate Act 2019 makes provision for some assets to be managed by certain types of local bodies including local authorities and community organisations. We are currently running a pilot scheme to test options for how this could work in practice.

What is the relationship between Crown Estate Scotland and the Scottish Government?

As a public corporation we are accountable to Scottish Ministers and the Scottish Parliament, but we are managed by an independent board. We work closely with Scottish Government and our work contributes to the achievement of Scottish Government national outcomes.

Does Crown Estate Scotland have to make a profit?

We have a duty to seek to maintain and enhance the revenue and the value of the assets we manage. The Scottish Crown Estate Act 2019 provides new duties enabling managers to manage assets in a way that is likely to contribute to the promotion or the improvement of economic, social and / or environmental factors.

Can Crown Estate Scotland buy and sell property?

Yes, we occasionally sell properties when appropriate to be able to buy, invest and develop. Capital from sales is reinvested in new opportunities to strengthen the value and revenue earnings of the estate, while maintaining adequate reserves.

Does Crown Estate Scotland manage 'unclaimed land'?

No. Land can sometimes effectively become ownerless. When this happens, title to the land may, in certain circumstances, revert to the Crown, but in Scotland this is administered by The Queen's and Lord Treasurer's Remembrancer.

Do whale carcasses beached on the foreshore in Scotland belong to Crown Estate Scotland?

No. Responsibility for Royal fish less than 25 feet in length rests with the local authority, who may arrange for them to be removed and disposed.

For whale carcasses over 25 feet in length, the local coastguard should notify the Scottish Government's Marine Scotland Directorate. They should also inform the SRUC who record cetacean strandings around Scotland and who may wish to undertake a post-mortem.

Scottish Government has produced guidance on how to respond to the stranding of a Royal fish.

Marine Scotland contact details to report Royal fish:

01224 295 579 (office hours)
07770 733 423 (outside office hours)
MS.MarineLicensing@scotland.gsi.gov.uk

Contact SRUC (Scotland’s Rural College) to report stranding of a dead whale - call 01463 243030, tweet @strandings together with animal and location or email stranding@sac.co.uk

Living whales should be reported to the Scottish SPCA on 03000 999 999 or British Divers Marine Life Rescue on 01825 765546

How do I get permission for gold panning?

Crown Estate Scotland manages the rights to gold and silver across most of Scotland. Because of the damage that gold panning causes, we do not grant permission for people to remove any gold.

It is an offence to remove gold found by recreational panning without permission from both the owner of the rights (e.g. Crown Estate Scotland) and the owner of the land (to gain access to the stream or river).

We understand that this policy may disappoint some. However, our intention is to help preserve the aquatic environments which are susceptible to damage.

To understand more about the damage that gold panning can cause, please follow the link below. Breaches of environmental and other legislation may result in prosecution or other action.

For the Scottish Natural Heritage Position on gold panning - see here.