Sir, – I have, over the last 30 years, used your Letters columns to find some corporate body I could blame for the regular occurrence of flooding, and potential threat from the sea that we live with.
In light of the appalling weather recently put upon us by – we are told – upper atmosphere conditions, we have in our small corner of the planet had some terrible storms and some, whilst not home devastating, very ‘scary’ days. As have many other people in England, Wales and the south-east and west of Scotland.
Our home has been flooded by the River Spey more times than I care to think about, but on December 5 to have 5ft waves breaking against the side of the garden hedge gave me cause for thought.
Who actually owns a large part of the Scottish coastline, and the solum of many rivers? The Crown Estates.
These ownerships were gained by right of the Sovereign and death duties. The Crown Estates act on behalf of, but not at the will of, the Sovereign to maintain and keep a good profit from their actions. So much so that most of Crown Estates appears to be outsourced to estate factors.
With a portfolio worth more than £1.4 billion you would imagine that they would be looking after interested parties, ie communities, the general public and non-government organisations (their statement, not mine).
Our particular problem with the River Spey became considerably more active after the closing of the netting fisheries at the mouth of the Spey 30 years ago. Where else in Britain has this happened?
Their declared income and expenditure does not in any way (aquaculture, seaweed and litter, a pier) state that their agents in any way care for the coastal communities in which they hold land or the seabed.
All income from Crown Estates is paid to the Treasury, and their Commissioners are responsible to the First Lord of The Treasury, namely the Prime Minister, despite devolved agreements with the Scottish Parliament.
Why should Scottish councils have to foot the bill for an obviously Whitehall-abbrogated, out of the way agreement, and why do Crown Estates not abide by (paraphrased) the 1961 Crown Estate Act (Section 1 S1para 3) and keep to ‘The general duty of the Crown Estates shall be..... but with due regard to the requirements of good management’. – Yours etc,