Isles MSP Tavish Scott accused the SNP of a “tax grab” today after rural affairs minister Richard Lochhead told him the party believed the Crown Estate’s powers should be devolved to Edinburgh, not local authorities.
Mr Scott has argued for some time that councils and harbour boards should assume the Crown Estate’s powers, but Mr Lochhead told him at Holyrood’s question time that ministers should take responsibility for the foreshore and inshore seabed.
Mr Scott said: “Shetland has long argued for the devolution of the marine estate to local responsibility. A House of Commons select committee agree[s] with that approach. Yet Scottish ministers want to replace the Crown Estate’s tax grab on local marine development with one of their own.
“As islanders know after five years of nationalist government powers are taken away from local control and centralised in Edinburgh. So why would any Shetlander believe that the nationalists would devolve this control to a local level when they do the opposite with fire and rescue, police and college funding. Their actions speak louder than their rhetoric.
“Shetland’s salmon farmers, mussel industry, port developments and marina users have paid tax to the Crown Estate for too long. It’s time for a new approach where these powers over the marine estate are locally controlled. That is what we should aim to achieve for the development of these industries and the huge potential of decommissioning oil platforms in the North Sea where Shetland is uniquely placed to take advantage of this work.”