Next week Plaid Cymru will repeat its call for the UK Government to devolve control of Welsh Crown Estate assets to Wales, and is urging  UK Labour to support the effort.

MP Liz Saville Roberts, who introduced the Crown Estate (Devolution to Wales) Bill in the Commons last year, will on Tuesday ask the government to include the Bill in the Queen’s Speech, which sets out priorities for the coming session of Parliament.

The Crown Estate Bill automatically failed when the 2021-2022 Parliamentary session ended last week, but Plaid says it intends to try again.

“[The Bill] would replicate the situation in Scotland, permitted by Westminster in 2016, and would bring our natural resources back under our control,” Saville-Roberts, Plaid’s leader in Westminster, told The National.

An online petition echoing this call has so far collected just under 11,000 signatures.

The Crown Estate is a commercial business that manages land and property owned by the Queen. Here in Wales, it controls assets worth £603 million - with profits split between the monarchy and the UK Government Treasury.

Management of Crown Estate property in Scotland, however, is devolved, so profits are paid back into the Scottish Government.

As part of the Welsh Government’s co-operation deal with Plaid Cymru, it agreed to push for a similar arrangement in Wales. Saville-Roberts believes that UK Labour, which has so far offered no explicit endorsement of the move, should support its sister party on the issue.

“Despite the blatant double standards in Westminster’s treatment of Scotland versus Wales, the Tories have so far refused to support the [Crown Estate] Bill, despite this now being official Welsh Government policy,” she said.

“Westminster is showing its disdain for Wales and our democracy.”

“In the new Parliament, we’ll be bringing back this Bill - and I urge the Labour Parliamentary party to listen to their colleagues in Wales and support our efforts. 

“With Westminster focused on glossy energy strategies rather than effective delivery, bringing control over our resources closer to the communities that are affected is not only what Wales wants, but is the right thing to do to secure a just and green net-zero transition.”

The value of Crown Estate holdings in Wales has skyrocketed in recent years, largely down to the leasing of Welsh seabeds for renewable energy projects.

The Estate controls our seabed out to 12 nautical miles from shore, along with 65 percent of Welsh foreshore and riverbeds, including a number of marinas and the port in Milford Haven.

Saville-Roberts previously warned that Wales was missing out on a “green gold rush” as a result.

Construction work for Morlais, a tidal energy scheme off the coast of Ynys Môn, began last week.

The National Wales: Offshore energy projects in Ynys Mon have become lucrative for the Crown Estate. (Picture: VisitWales)Offshore energy projects in Ynys Mon have become lucrative for the Crown Estate. (Picture: VisitWales)

A number of companies - none of which are Welsh - are currently competing for the scheme’s first turbine-building contract. They include Verdant, a firm based in New York, and Orbital, based in Scotland.

Whichever developer wins the contract will pay rent to the Crown Estate, along with Menter Môn, a not-for-profit local enterprise agency that holds a 45-year lease for the seabed on which the tidal turbines will be built.

Menter Môn says its money will be invested back into the local area.

Asked whether locals might be rewarded with cheaper energy, the project director said: “Not at the moment.”

The contract for another Ynys Môn renewable energy project, an offshore wind farm, was last year awarded to a consortium of Energie Baden-Württemberg, a German energy company that operates a number of coal-fired power stations, and British Petroleum, one of the largest oil companies in the world.

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The Queen’s Speech is part of the ceremonial opening of a new Parliamentary session. Though delivered by the Queen, the speech itself is written by the UK Government, detailing its priorities - and the legislation it intends to pass - for the months ahead.

For days afterwards, MPs will debate the policies laid out in the speech, and opposition parties will usually propose their own, alternative legislation. MPs will then vote.

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