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Time for change, says Council Leader (30/03/11)
The Highland Council’s Leader Councillor Michael Foxley has told the UK Parliament’s Scottish Affairs Select Committee the time has come for action and for major change of the governance of the Scottish Crown Estate assets. He said the Scottish seabed and other rights should be devolved to Scotland and that within harbour areas it should be controlled by local harbour authorities to ensure community benefits were optimised.
It was the latest plea by Councillor Foxley to bring about change to the management of the Crown Estate assets. He has already presented the Council’s arguments to the UK Treasury Select Committee and to the Scottish Government.
A vital concern, he said, was the need to secure major local financial community benefits, in addition to employment, training and business benefits, from marine energy development around the Highlands and Islands.
He said: “Without full community benefit, local people are being exploited. The Crown Estate Commissioners need a long term strategy and they need to work with local people to optimise – not maximise – the opportunities that marine renewables present.”
In supporting the renewable energy sector in the Highlands, the Council see huge opportunities for the development of marine renewable energy in the Pentland Firth.
He said: “We need to learn from the mistakes of the past to ensure that Highland and Islands communities benefit from offshore renewables.”
The Highland Council wishes to see greater efforts to fully integrate the role of the Crown Estate Commissioners with the marine planning process at national and local level in Scotland.
It was his view that harbour authorities and trusts, who control the waters around ports, should own and control their seabed.
Councillor Foxley concluded: “This was another welcome opportunity to present our case. I welcome the return of Scottish Affairs Committee later in the year to look at examples of good and bad practice when we will give further evidence and I look forward to the conclusions of their deliberations.”