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22 June 2018

Local MSP Demands UK Government Hand Back £167 million Proceeds of 'Cash Grab'

Local SNP MSP Stewart Stevenson is calling on the UK Crown Estate to pass to Crown Estate Scotland the £167m proceeds from the sale of its share in the Fort Kinnaird Retail Park in Edinburgh.

Despite repeated requests in the run up to the Scotland Bill in 2016, the UK Government refused to include Fort Kinnaird, the Crown Estate’s most valuable asset in Scotland, in the list of Scottish assets to be managed by Crown Estate Scotland following devolution.

Within two years of refusing to devolve the site to Crown Estate Scotland, they have cashed in by selling the site to London-based M&G Estates, a fund which has already started moving operations to Luxembourg because of Brexit.

The Crown Estate is currently undertaking a £1.5 billion redevelopment of its assets in Central London, including Regent Street and half of St James’s, while Crown Estate Scotland is having to sell off a tenanted farm in Fochabers in Moray to raise revenue, which may not have been necessary if the UK Government had originally agreed to designate Fort Kinnaird as a Scottish asset.

The SNP is demanding that Scotland receives the full £167 million owed. The value of the Fort Kinnaird site represents 60% of the total assets of Crown Estate Scotland.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson, who is a member of the Scottish Parliament’s Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Committee, said:

“The UK Government no doubt wants this shady cash grab kept below the radar – but Scotland is simply being conned.

“Just two years ago UK Ministers refused Scottish Government requests to devolve this site to the new Crown Estate Scotland, and it’s now clear that there are 167 million reasons why.

“Not only that – it’s a bitter pill to swallow that whilst Crown Estate Scotland is looking to sell off assets to raise funds to invest in its portfolio, its UK counterpart is currently undertaking a multi-billion pound redevelopment of its Central London assets – the funds from Fort Kinnaird would have been a significant amount of money for Crown Estate Scotland.

“Had this site been devolved, the Scottish Government could have reinvested such a huge windfall in transforming Crown Estate sites across the country, including North-east assets such as the Glenlivet and Fochabers estates, and other sites across Scotland.

“Instead, the cash is disappearing from right under our noses. The North-east is a particularly busy area for the Crown Estate with various permissions and leases for pipelines and windfarms and the UK Government needs to play fair and give Scotland the money we are owed to help support our communities particularly in our more rural and coastal areas.”
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