A Scottish Government minister has admitted he has no idea how much future proceeds of leasing out the seabed would be worth to the northern and western isles.
Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead said civil servants had “not made any estimates” but blamed the Crown Estate for not published information on gross or net annual income.
The issue forms a key plank in the Scottish Government’s campaign to try and persuade people in Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles to vote “yes” in the independence referendum on September 18.
First Minister Alex Salmond has promised to give island local authorities 100% of net income yielded by the Crown Estate to fund services and projects as they saw fit.
He claimed all Scotland’s islands would have greater control over their local economies and be represented at the heart of government in an independent Scotland.
But Shetland MSP Tavish Scott hit out at the government’s position.
“The nationalists promise our islands the net income from the Crown Estate rent but do not know how much that might be,” he added.
“No one in the islands is taken in by this kind of cynical politics.
“The real and lasting commitment is to pass the powers over the seabed directly from the UK to the islands without the need to stop in Edinburgh on the way.
“We have had seven years of nationalism removing powers from the islands.
“Why would anyone believe that suddenly this centralising government will engage reverse gear on the Crown Estate or anything else?”
Mr Lochhead revealed in a answer to a parliamentary question that the Crown Estate Scotland report 2014 stated that gross revenue from Scotland was £13.6million and net revenue was £11.2million in 2013-14.
“Scottish ministers have called for the Crown Estate to be more transparent about income raised in Scotland but the Crown Estate has not so far published information on gross or net annual income from leasing the seabed around the Scottish islands,” he added.
“In the absence of detailed information on income from leasing the seabed around the Scottish islands the Scottish Government has not made any estimates of future income.”