The Crown Estate has been criticised for not employing any permanent staff in Wales – despite raking in a gross annual surplus of £2.3m.
The revelation comes as the body, which owns large swathes of land in Wales as well as the sea bed in UK territorial waters, is set for a multi-million-pound windfall from the development of wind farms off the coast of Wales.
Plaid Cymru’s Leanne Wood who is seeking re-election to the National Assembly in South Wales Central, said the benefits of natural resources should go to the people of Wales.
Ms Wood said: “The Crown Estate makes and in future will make even more money from Wales, yet doesn’t employ a single permanent worker in the country.
“They say they do have one employee who lives in Wales and spends much of his working life here. They take plenty from Wales but are not giving anything back.”
Ms Wood was told that existing offshore wind farms in North Wales at North Hoyle and Rhyl Flats generated income to the Crown Estate of almost £400,000 in 2009-10.
In total, the body’s annual report showed its 3,000 acres across Wales generated a gross surplus of £2.3m in 2009-10 with capital receipts bringing in £1.8m.
Profits earned by the Crown Estate are paid to the Treasury but last year Chancellor George Osborne announced plans to use the Estate’s income to fund the Royal Family.
The Chancellor plans to replace the Civil List funding formula with payments to the Royal Household that are linked to the Crown Estate’s profits after 2013.
Unless an earnings cap is imposed, the Royal Family could net up to £37.5m extra income every year from wind farms as the seabed within Britain’s territorial waters is owned by the Crown Estate.
Construction of the Gwynt-y- Mor wind project is due to start this year and the Crown Estate told Ms Wood it also had a zone development agreement with Centrica to develop up to 4.2 gigawatts, covering both Welsh and English waters.
In addition, the Crown Estate has onshore options for three wind farms at Lys Dymper with Wind Power Wales, at Llanllwni with RES Renewables and Cilfaesty with RWE Power. Planning applications have been submitted for the first two.
Ms Wood said: “Virtually all the UK’s sea bed, including that in Wales, up to 12 nautical miles from the shore and more than half the UK foreshore is owned by the Crown Estate.
“Plaid’s view is that it is high time that profits which are earned from Wales’ natural resources, the seabed and the land should be owned by the Welsh Government for benefit of the people of Wales and not into the Treasury’s coffers, which is passed on to an already excessively wealthy Royal Family.
“We don’t want to repeat the situation where huge profits were made from the coal industry but Wales did not enjoy the benefits and is still paying the price today.”
A spokesman for the Crown Estate said it was working to “increase [its] responsiveness to Welsh needs and interests”.
He said: “The Crown Estate and the Assembly Government have signed a Letter of Intent to work together to support the development of offshore renewable energy related manufacturing capacity in Wales.
“We are playing a key role in facilitating offshore renewable energy, enabling wind farm projects to create hundreds of jobs and building Wales’ position as a centre for renewable energy construction and operations.”
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