An organisation that controls so-called ‘Royal’ land has come under fire after it emerged £167m from the sale of a Scottish asset has been kept in London.
The Crown Estate was devolved in 2016 as part of the Scotland Act. The organisation’s Scottish branch controls land and buildings around Scotland.
However it has emerged that proceeds of a sale of a Scottish Retail Park has been kept by the organisation’s London headquarters.
The cash-grab was exposed by The National newspaper. According to the newspaper the Crown Estate kept hold of a significant investment – 50% of the highly successful Fort Kinnaird retail park on the east side of Edinburgh when the organisation was devolved. A recent sale of the asset netted the Crown Estate a whopping £167m.
The revelation has prompted calls for the money to be returned to Scotland. Speaking to The National, SNP MSP Richard Lochhead 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 Glenlivet and Fochabers estates, and villages and harbours in my constituency, and other sites across Scotland.
“Instead, the cash is disappearing from right under our noses.
“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.”
The newspaper also revealed the new buyer, M&G Estates, is a London-based fund which has already started moving operations to Luxembourg because of Brexit.