Alison Nimmo, the new chief executive of the Crown Estate, has insisted it is the “right organisation” to develop Britain’s offshore energy interests despite criticism from MPs.
Ms Nimmo, who has joined the Crown Estate from the Olympic Delivery Authority, said the organisation had built a “world class team” in offshore energy and will strike a balance between “commercial exploitation and long-term stewardship”.
Her comments follow claims in a report by Westminster’s Scottish Affairs Committee that the Crown Estate is operating with a “lack of accountability and transparency” in Scotland and calls for it to be devolved.
“We think having a UK-wide organisation that can take an overall view and bring a level of expertise is very important,” she told the Telegraph. “This is a world class industry. It is really important that we get behind it as an industry and continue to be at forefront of the world.
The Crown Estate owns the foreshore and seabed in Scotland, where it is overseeing the development of wind farms and offshore gas storage facilities. It has already invested £200m into renewable energy projects.
However, the Scottish National Party has made breaking up the Crown Estate a priority, while the construction of wind farms on Crown Estate land has also been questioned because Prince Phillip and Prince Charles have expressed scepticism over wind farms.
The Crown Estate controls £7bn of assets, including Regent Street and retail parks. It pays its profits to the Treasury but 15pc is then granted to the Queen to fund her official duties.
“The Royal family have been really clear that we are an independent organisation and they don’t interfere in how we do business,” Ms Nimmo said.
Ms Nimmo said the Crown Estate had enjoyed a “blockbuster” 10 years under former chief executive Roger Bright. However, the organisation is in talks with the Government about making changes in Scotland following the critical MPs report.
“I am a new chief executive and I am having a look at it all,” she said. “There a lot of politics involved and there is a much bigger conversation around devolution and independence but obviously we need to listen to what people are saying and we need to move with the times.”
Ms Nimmo declined to reveal the nature of the changes, which are due to be confirmed within weeks. It is understood the Crown Estate could bolster its management team in Scotland and also give its offshore division a responsibility for rural land in the country.
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