The Crown Estate has today (Wednesday 22 November 2023) welcomed the commitment in the Autumn Statement to bring forward legislation to modernise its investment powers.
This would include the ability to borrow capital and invest with more flexibility across its portfolio and in alignment with its strategy and core duties. These duties, as set out in the Crown Estate Act 1961, are to grow the value of the portfolio into perpetuity and the income it returns to Treasury for the benefit of the nation’s finances. Over the last ten years, the portfolio has grown to £16 billion, with £3.2 billion returned to Treasury.
Dan Labbad, Chief Executive of The Crown Estate said: “We look forward to working with UK Government to bring forward this essential piece of legislation as soon as possible to modernise our investment powers. The 1961 Crown Estate Act is a remarkable piece of legislation that continues to stand us in good stead, ensuring the land, property, and seabed we manage serves the interests of the nation both now and for the long-term. At the same time, some modest changes to the Crown Estate Act will enable us to have an even greater impact across our portfolio to ensure we play our part in supporting the UK’s transition to a net zero, energy secure future; nature recovery; regeneration and economic growth; as well as increase the income we return to Treasury for the benefit of the nation’s finances.”
Accelerating the UKs pathway to net zero through future offshore wind leasing
One example of how greater investment powers will bolster The Crown Estate’s impact is through its role in accelerating renewable energy for millions of homes through sectors such as offshore wind, as well as creating opportunities for new technologies like carbon capture and storage, and hydrogen. These sectors are critical to the UK’s transition to a net zero, energy secure future.
In its capacity as manager of the seabed around England, Wales and Northern Ireland, The Crown Estate invests significantly to run leasing rounds, de-risk the process for developers, and engage a diverse range of stakeholders with world-class data and evidence. There is also an urgent and growing need for greater investment in data, insights and innovation to support the protection and enhancement of marine nature as more offshore technologies are rolled out to address climate change and energy security.
The Autumn Statement outlines the Government’s commitment to bring forward legislation to modernise The Crown Estate’s investment powers as soon as possible in the context of supporting future offshore wind leasing of up to 20-30 GW of seabed rights by 2030. It also references Government’s commitment to unlocking the Celtic Sea development pipeline by up to a further 12 GW beyond the 4.5 GW already identified in an upcoming Crown Estate leasing programme known as ‘Round 5’.
Dan Labbad added:
“Any future pipeline of offshore wind projects, both fixed and floating, must be done in the right way, managing both the needs of the many users and livelihoods dependent on our seas and protecting and enhancing our natural world. To do this at the pace and scale needed will require significant investment and partnership working across governments and sectors. We therefore also welcome Government’s commitment in the Autumn Statement to unlocking the potential of our seabed as part of the transition to a greener future that will also bring economic benefits for the whole of the UK.”