With effect from 27 September 2021, new legislation came into force which allows eligible bodies to apply for transfer or delegation of management functions for Scottish Crown Estate assets.
The eligible bodies are:
- a local authority
- another Scottish public authority (with mixed functions or no reserved functions within the meaning fo the Scotland Act 1998)
- a Scottish harbour authority
- a community organisation
For a detailed explanation of the background to this change, and what it means to apply for a transfer or delegation of these powers, please refer to the sections below.
The first transfer and delegation application round ran from 1 November 2021 to 2 May 2022, with applications handled by Marine Scotland. This round has ended, and expressions of interest are not currently being invited.
Introduction and context
Scotland boasts an abundance of natural assets, from mountains and ancient Caledonian forests, to more than 6000 miles of coastline. Protecting and sustainably managing these assets is vital for the people of Scotland and our future generations.
Across Scotland’s land and waters, “The Crown'' is one of the largest property owners. The land and property owned by the Monarch in right of the Crown, vary from the Applegirth Estate in Dumfries to the seabed around the coast of Orkney, and together they form the Scottish Crown Estate (”the Estate”). Since 2017, the Estate has been managed on behalf of the Crown, by Crown Estate Scotland.
The purpose of Crown Estate Scotland is to manage these assets for the benefit of Scotland and its communities, in a way that is sustainable and that generates value in terms of money, social wellbeing, and enhancement of the natural environment. Revenue profit is paid to the Scottish Parliament, via the Scottish Consolidated Fund, and redistributed for public spending.
The Scottish Government and Crown Estate Scotland recognise that the value and benefits from these assets can be greatly enhanced by effectively engaging with communities. This ranges from creating opportunities for enjoyment of the assets, to ensuring people can have a voice in management decisions. In some cases, the most significant benefits come from giving communities greater empowerment and control over managing an asset.
Crown Estate Scotland have been working with communities across Scotland to enable meaningful local involvement in decision making. Current routes range from local agreements such as boat mooring associations, to the creation of formal advisory groups to manage activities.
Additionally, Crown Estate Scotland have two active local management pilots and two more in final stages. These involve agreeing certain aspects of management that will be led or coordinated locally.
In 2019, the Scottish Parliament passed the Scottish Crown Estate Act 2019, which includes the option for two further routes to management of assets: transfer, or delegation. The Independent Framework for Transfer and Delegation (IFTD) has been created to support applications to transfer or delegate the management of an asset.
The IFTD is the framework setting out the steps required to commence the legal process of transferring or delegating the management of an asset., The focus is on empowering communities and local bodies in Scotland to manage certain assets. For example, this could include local authorities managing port areas, or a community group managing an area of foreshore. The aim is to give those closely connected to an asset, and therefore well placed to make positive decisions, a direct say in how to maintain and enhance their local resources.
The Scottish Parliament passed the Scottish Crown Estate Act 2019 (“the Act”) in November 2018 and it received Royal Assent in January 2019. The Act specifies accounting and reporting requirements and procedures, thus ensuring sufficient openness and consistency to the management of assets, at local and national levels. The plans and reports that are produced as per these requirements are laid in the Scottish Parliament and are audited by the Auditor General for Scotland.
In relation to the seabed around Scotland, the Scottish Parliament views this as a national asset which should be managed nationally. The Act includes powers that enable Scottish Ministers to transfer the management of an asset by laying regulations in the Scottish Parliament, which will therefore be able to scrutinise any transfer of management of the seabed.
Scottish Government (via the Crown Estate Strategy Unit)
The Crown Estate Strategy Unit (CESU) is part of the Scottish Government (SG) and sits within the Marine Scotland, Planning and Policy division. CESU has responsibility for development of strategic policies for the management and implementation of the Act. This work supports the SG to deliver wider benefits to Scotland and its communities, as well as ensuring that management of the Estate is in harmony with relevant SG policies, priorities and objectives.
Crown Estate Scotland
Crown Estate Scotland is a public corporation that manages assets in Scotland – including buildings, land, seabed of coastal waters, and certain other seabed rights– on behalf of the Crown and for the benefit of the Scottish people. Together these assets form the Scottish Crown Estate (‘the Estate’).
Ownership of the Estate lies with the Monarch in right of the Crown and management responsibility currently sits with Crown Estate Scotland. Crown Estate Scotland currently has around 60 staff and is managed by an independent board. The organisation is accountable to Scottish Ministers and the Scottish Parliament, and works in line with government policies and strategies.
Crown Estate Scotland has a statutory duty to maintain and enhance the value of the assets it manages, doing so in a way that creates social, economic and environmental benefits. This typically involves generating a profit, mainly through rents from leasing the property. All revenue profits are returned to the Scottish Consolidated Fund, managed by the Scottish Government for public spending. In 2019-20, Crown Estate Scotland returned £11.4 million of net revenue and are on track to pay the budgeted £8.1 million to the public purse for 2020-21 activities. Most of these funds will be redistributed to coastal local authorities.
What do we mean by assets?
“Asset” is the term used for terrestrial land, seabed, half of Scotland’s foreshore, properties and rights managed by Crown Estate Scotland. These range from ancient rights to more recently acquired property and rights. All assets are owned by the Monarch, but are held “in right of The Crown”. These are diverse and extend across the whole of the country and include, but are not limited to:
- land assets, such as Glenlivet Estate in Tomintoul, 90 square miles of woodland, rivers and heather moorland in the Grampian Highlands
- property assets, such as the office and retail units on George Street, Edinburgh and the Zero Four development site near Montrose
- rights, such as the rights to fish wild salmon in rivers and Scottish coastal waters
Further information about the assets managed by Crown Estate Scotland is available here.
Current management of assets
All assets need to be managed for the benefit of the people of Scotland, including future generations. This means ensuring that every asset is managed sustainably, and the value of the asset is maintained or enhanced over time. Asset value is considered not only in monetary terms, but also in terms of the regeneration value or the contribution to social or environmental wellbeing.
Management under these principles can look very different between assets. For example, across the rural estates, much of the land is let for a variety of uses including farming or sporting operations. Across all assets, Crown Estate Scotland works closely with local managers, tenants and other partners to ensure any management decisions are sustainable for the environment and communities.
For more insight into how assets are currently managed, Crown Estate Scotland have produced asset profiles that are publicly available here. You can also find out more by looking at these case studies.
Local management of assets
Local involvement is integral to the success of asset management. A range of options already exist for community organisations and local, public and Scottish Harbour authorities who seek greater involvement in the management and decision-making of Scottish Crown Estate assets in their area. These include advisory groups, local management agreements, partnership agreements and leases. If you are interested in discussing how you can become more involved in asset management, a first step is to complete the enquiry form.
For those who want to have greater control and responsibility over the management of an asset, there are now two further options under the IFTD: transfer or delegation.
- when the function of managing an asset is transferred to a new manager e.g. a community body, the new manager takes on all management responsibility for that asset going forward and Crown Estate Scotland cease to be involved in the management of the asset
- when the function of managing an asset is delegated, the person to whom the management function is delegated takes on the agreed aspects of management, but is supported by the continued involvement of Crown Estate Scotland who will continue to report on the asset to the Scottish Government
For more insight into how organisations can currently take on management of an asset, look at these case studies.
Local management pilots scheme
In 2018, Crown Estate Scotland launched the Local Management Pilots Scheme. This delegation scheme was a forerunner of the Integrated IFTD run by the Scottish Government, and the feedback and lessons learned from the pilots have informed the process of the IFTD.
The organisations who participated in the pilot scheme are also able to apply for full transfer or delegation. The process is outlined in the Guide to a Successful Application, and many of the materials developed for the pilot scheme will benefit an application for transfer or delegation.
If you are an organisation who participated in the pilot and have any questions about how to move from your pilot project to an application for transfer or delegation, please contact CESU at CESU@gov.scot who can provide further advice and guidance.
To learn more about the pilot projects that are working towards successful local management, read these case studies.
Applications for transfer and delegation
A transfer process will result in a new manager being responsible for the management of the asset(s) in its entirety - Crown Estate Scotland’s involvement in management of the asset would cease.
Under a delegation, Crown Estate Scotland will continue to be involved in the overall management of the asset(s) and would also guide the new manager.
Applying for a transfer or delegation is a significant undertaking that can involve extensive stakeholder engagement and in the case of transfers, will involve parliamentary scrutiny.
The Independent Framework for Transfer and Delegation (IFTD) sets out the process to help ensure that applicants are well-informed and supported, and that the assets will continue to be sustainably managed.
If you are interested in applying for a transfer or delegation, the materials below are designed to help you make an informed decision and an effective application.
For more information about what transfer or delegation means and the associated rights and responsibilities, please go to the Guide to Community Management through Transfer or Delegation.
If you are ready to make an application, please go to the Guide to a Successful Application. This provides details on the steps to making and progressing an application through the IFTD.
Guide to community mgmt through transfer or delegation
If you would like to know more about what transfer or delegation would look like in practice and whether it might be the right route for you, please read the Guide to Community Management through Transfer or Delegation on Marine Scotland’s website.
If you have any questions about options or wish to discuss your aims further, please use the Enquiry Form available on Marine Scotland’s website.
Guide to a successful application
If you are sure that transfer or delegation is right for you, please read the Guide to a Successful Application on Marine Scotland’s website.
Once you have read the guide and are ready to apply, you can download the Expression of Interest Form from Marine Scotland’s website to begin the application process.