In a one-to-one meeting with Cabinet Secretary Fergus Ewing yesterday (Tuesday 30 May), NFU Scotland’s President Andrew McCornick relayed the concerns and aspirations of agricultural tenants over the continuing devolution process of the Crown Estate.
The Union, which formed a working group in 2016 to give the Crown Estates’ agricultural tenants a strong voice in the process, has been participating in Scottish Government’s stakeholder working group on their behalf.
The portfolio of Crown Estate comprises four estates of Applegirth, Glenlivet, Fochabers and Whitehills, with an estimated value of £98 million. There are 117 secure 1991 Act tenancies on the estates, representing a significant proportion of the remaining tenancies of this type in Scotland. In addition to this, the estate has numerous other fixed term tenancies.
The agricultural tenants are of the view that they wish to see the Crown Estate devolved as a whole to ensure the estates can continue to function as they have done, and to ensure that fragmentation of the estates does not occur.
NFU Scotland President Andrew McCornick commented: “The Union has been working to give the agricultural tenants a voice for some time now, and they remain clear in their objectives for devolution of the estate. They feel that in general, the Crown Estate has been a good landlord, and one which they wish to continue to work with. What is clear, is that there is significant synergy between the various assets contained within the portfolio.
“The tenanted farms provide a long-term and stable asset base, and the tenants are keen that nothing occurs during the devolution process that would jeopardise their ability to farm.
“The tenants also feel there is a strong case for a more dynamic relationship between the agricultural tenants and the new Crown Estate Board, so they can have a better understanding of day to day issues and decisions taken by the management.
“The Cabinet Secretary is actively involved with agricultural holdings legislation and the ongoing work that still needs to be done. He understands the Crown Estates’ tenants desire for stability and future investment. We want to work with all involved to ensure that Crown Estate becomes an exemplar good landlord.
“We will be meeting with Roseanna Cunningham, lead Minister for this issue, on 28 June and look forward to discussing these issues then.”