Pressure from the SNP and Scotland's coastal communities has forced the UK Government to make revenues from the crown estate available to Scottish communities however Finance Secretary John Swinney described the establishment of a fund equalling 50% of the revenues from offshore investment as a "paltry" commitment.
The SNP has increased the pressure in recent weeks on the UK Government to devolve control and revenues of the Crown Estate - which controls Scotland's shores, harbours and seabed, to the Scottish Parliament and Scottish people.
Instead of allowing Scotland to take control over investment in our own offshore economy and allowing Scottish communities to determine how all revenues are spent the Tory/Lib Dem government is to make coastal communities bid for a share of funding and compete against each other for money that is rightfully theirs. The UK Government's move aims to end discussion of devolving the Crown estate and secure half the revenues for UK spending.
SNP Finance Secretary John Swinney said
"We welcome the fact that Scotland's coastal communities will now benefit from their own resources, but it is only because of pressure from the Scottish Government that Westminster is taking any action on this issue, and this paltry announcement does not go nearly far enough.
"The Treasury has hit Scotland's offshore oil and gas industry with a 2 billion pounds tax grab and is also withholding around 200million pounds of Scotland's money in the form of the Fossil Fuel Levy - now they appear to be trying to buy off Scotland's coastal communities byoffering them only 50 per cent of their own resources. Those communities need to benefit from all of the money raised from Crown Estate revenues in Scottish waters - not just the half the UK Government is offering.
SNP MP for Na' h-Eileanan an Iar Angus MacNeil said Danny Alexander had to show he could really deliver for the Highlands as he questionned the details of the announcements, "It is unclear if communities are actually getting Crown Estate revenue, some form of lottery funding or other Treasury funds.
“Danny Alexander must clarify as soon as possible if this really is Crown Estate money and when the UK Government will move to devolve full control and revenues from the Crown Estate to Scotland. He needs to prove he is a man that can deliver for the Highlands and Islands, rather than just being the Tories’ front man in Scotland.
Meanwhile Rob Gibson warned the Treasury that Scotland's coastal communities want more than just money from the Crown Estate, repeating SNP calls for full devolution of the organisation's responsibilities. The Scottish government controls planning offshore but it is still up to the Crown Estate to grant licences for offshore renewables and to invest in Scotland's shores and seabeds.
"The future control of the Crown Estate Commission is a live political issue that the UK Government are trying to quash with this announcement. I represent many harbours and offshore wind, tidal and wave project areas who will welcome this funding but who want more control over the Crown Estate’s activities as well as revenues.
“It's not just about community benefit funds, it's also about what the CEC does and how it does it.”