Communities across the north and north-east will move a step closer today to taking control of lucrative assets owned by the Queen.
From today, powers over the management of Crown Estate resources in Scotland have been taken over by Scottish Government ministers.
It includes thousands of hectares of rural land, approximately half Scotland’s foreshore and leasing the seabed for rights to renewable energy.
The assets were worth £271.8million in 2015-16 and generated a gross annual revenue of £14million through offshore energy schemes, fish farms, harbours and moorings, and tourism ventures in areas such as the 58,000-acre Glenlivet Estate.
Devolution of the Crown Estate powers has been demanded for years amid claims it had been behaving like an “absentee landlord” and “tax collector” in Scotland.
A new body named Crown Estate Scotland (Interim Management) will be established while ministers finalise a long-term strategy that includes opportunities to devolve the money-making powers to communities, as demanded by opposition parties.
Land Reform Secretary, Roseanna Cunningham, described the move as “a historic day”.
She added: “The management and resources of the Crown Estate now rest with the people of Scotland and we have a genuine, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to use them to change the fabric of Scottish society, placing the needs of local and coastal communities at the centre of our long-term planning for these considerable assets.
“From today, decisions about both the day-to-day management and the future of the estate will be taken in Scotland.
“This will have positive implications, not only for the many people who live, work or have some other direct connection with the Crown Estate, but for the communities across Scotland which stand to benefit from the further changes to come, including opportunities for devolved local management of assets.”
Ms Cunningham has been one of the driving forces behind the change.
She sai “The devolution of the Crown Estate is of particular importance to the Highlands and Islands.
“The Crown Estate’s assets in the area largely relate to the foreshore. The assets include commercial leases and agreements for moorings and fish farms.
“Our long term plans include opportunities for devolved local management of assets, delivering a stronger voice to communities on how Crown Estate assets are managed.”