Nach bochd mar a thathas a’ trèigsinn prionnsabalan, le Murray MacLeòid

Nuair a chaidh bruidhinn an toiseach mu chrathadh a thoirt air Oighreachd a’ Chrùin ‘s beag a bha dùil ris na mìorbhailean a tha sinn a’ faicinn an-diugh, le ceadan gan toirt seachad airson sreath de thuathan-gaoithe mòr aig muir, bhon a’ Chuan-a-Tuath a-nall chun an Cuan Siar.

Tha cead air a thoiirt seachad airson sreath de thuathan-gaoithe mòr aig muir
Tha cead air a thoiirt seachad airson sreath de thuathan-gaoithe mòr aig muir

[English-language version below]

Fhad ‘s a tha an onghail sin a’ dol air adhart, 's fhiach ceum air ais a ghabhail airson nam prionnsabal a chur nar cuimhne air an robh iomairt Oighreachd a’ Chrùin sa chiad àite stèidhichte, ach nach deach, gu mì-fhortanach, a thoirt gu buil.

Bho chionn còrr air dà fhichead bliadhna cha robh mòran guth air a’ bhuidhinn neònaich shean-fhasanta a tha seo, a tha a’ dol air ais, mar a thuigeas tu bhon ainm, gu na sean-làithean.

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Ach, an uair sin, thàinig tuathanasan èisg agus abair gun robh tuigse ann an uair sin gum feumte màl a phàigheadh airson grunnd na mara agus na cladaichean mus tachradh càil sam bith.

Agus chan e sin uile na dleasdanasan aca. Tha oighreachdan agus toglaichean aca cuideachd, ach son an-dràsta fhèin ‘s ann a tha a’ phrospaig air dè tha a’ tachairt a-muigh aig muir.

‘S iongantach gum bi seo idir cho mòr neo cho buannachdail ri nuair a thàinig an t-ola is an gas dhan Chuan a Tuath, ach le bhith a’ toirt seachad 74 cead – le dùil ris an tuilleadh ri thighinn – bheir e buaidh mhòr, gu cinnteach a thaobh cumhachd a tha math dhan àrainneachd agus ‘s dòcha cuideachd, a thaobh na h-eaconamaidh, ged nach eil sin cho soilleir agus na companaidhean seo cho eadar-nàiseanta. Tha obair ri dhèanamh air sin fhathast.

Le Oighreachd a’ Chrùin a-nis fo stiùir Riaghaltas na h-Alba – ged nach robh còir nach bhith ann an sin ach ceum eadar-amail – tha e a’ ciallachadh gun tig £700 millean a Dhùn Èideann sa bhad sa Ghiblean bho na companaidhean a tha air cead leasachaidh fhaighinn. 'S iad a tha fortanach.

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Ach, chan ann mar seo a bha còir aige a bhith. Cha robh e idir na dhùil aca-san a bha ag iomairt son atharrachadh air Oighreachd a’ Chrùin sa chiad àite, gun deigheadh an teachd a-steach bho aon riaghaltas gu tèile. ‘S e a bha san amharc ach gun tigeadh a' bhuannachd gu na coimhearsnachdan timcheall nan cladaichean.

Dhà-riribh ann an 2016, thuirt Nicola Sturgeon gum faigheadh na h-eileanan “an làn teachd a-steach bho Oighreachd a’ Chrùin timcheall nan cladaichean aca”. Bha sin sia bliadhna air ais.

An t-seachdain ’s a chaidh, nuair a chaidh faighneachd dha ministear na cùmhachd Mìchael MacMhathain dè tha dol a thachairt dhan £700 millean, thuirt e: “Tha sinn air a dhèanamh soilleir gu bheil sin a’ dol gu sporan na h-Alba; ‘s e airgead a tha ann a chleachdas sinn, ann am pàirt, son coinneachadh ri amasan air carbon cothromach, agus beachdaichidh sinn an uair sin air ciamar a nì sinn feum dheth ann an storas na h-Alba.” Geallaidhean a’ falbh anns a’ ghaoith, dh’fhaodadh thu a ràdh.

‘S dòcha gu bheil adhbhran rianachd is poileasaidh ann dha cùmhachdan Oighreachd a’ Chrùin ann an Alba a bhith a’ fuireach ann an Dùn Èideann, ach tha e deuchainneach gu bheil iad a’ dol cho mòr an aghaidh a' phrionnsabail a bha ann – agus rud ris an robh iad fhèin a’ gabhail bho chionn gle ghoirid.

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An ath thuras a nì iad càineadh air daoine eile airson a bhith rag is a bhith ri briseadh gheallaidhean, ‘s dòcha gum bu chòir dhaibh stad agus sùil a thoirt orra fhèin.

Cha leig iad a leas bleidreigeadh le sgàthan. Cha leig iad a leas ach coimhead gu muir.

Fios bhon neach-deasachaidh:

Tapa leibh airson an aithris a tha seo a leughadh. Tha sinn an eismeil ur taic nas motha na bha riamh agus buaidh a’ Choronbhirus air buaidh a thoirt air luchd sanasachd. Mur eil sibh air a dhèanamh mar-tha, ma se ur toil, nach beachdaich sibh taic a chumail ri ar obair-naidheachd earbsach, a tha sinn a’ dearbhadh a tha fìor, le bhith toirt a-mach ballrachd digiteach.

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When the campaign was first initiated to reform the Crown Estate, the remarkable situation unfolding today, with proposals for a number of major offshore windfarms in our coastal waters, from the North Sea across to the Atlantic, would have seemed an impossible pipedream.

But as the scramble for this green bonanza ensues, it’s worth taking a step back in time to remind ourselves of some basic principles, which are now in danger of being cast aside in the clamour to secure the so-called ScotWind windfall.

Back in the 1970s there was little word and even less understanding of this anachronistic, mysterious entity, which as its name suggests is a lingering hangover from the Victorian age.

But then came the arrival of the fish-farming revolution, and the sudden realisation that nothing could proceed without handing over rental income for the seabed and foreshore to this hitherto unremarkable body linked by history to the UK crown.

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It’s not just the seabed they have a hold over. They also own several properties and estates, but for the purposes of the here and now it is only what’s at stake around our coast that really matters.

It may not be the second coming of the oil and gas boom, but the granting of 74 licences around the Scottish coast for major offshore windfarms is potentially a game-changer, certainly in terms of the drive towards net-zero carbon emissions and potentially, too, in economic transformation, although that may prove more challenging due to the global standing of the developers.

With Crown Estate Scotland now under the direct jurisdiction of the Scottish government – in what was only meant to be the first step towards full devolution – it means that straight away Edinburgh will receive a £700 million windfall in April from the companies who have secured licenses. Not a bad gig if you can get it, as they say.

But it wasn’t meant to be like this. For those who first campaigned for the devolution of the Crown Estate, it was far from their intention that the revenues would transfer from one layer of government to another.

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Instead it was with the express intention that the coastal communities affected the most would be the ultimate beneficiaries, a real devolution of power and revenues down to the most local level.

Indeed, in 2016, Nicola Sturgeon herself stated that “island communities will receive the full revenues from Crown Estate assets around their shores”. That was six years ago.

Last week, when asked who will benefit from the £700 million, Michael Matheson, the Cabinet Secretary for Energy, stated: “We have made it very clear that that money will come into the Scottish exchequer; it is funding that we will use, in part, to support our net-zero ambitions; and that we will then consider how to utilise it across the rest of the Scottish block grant.” What is it they say about political promises and blowing in the wind?

There may be good administrative and policy reasons for the ministers in Edinburgh to retain some control over Crown Estate Scotland, but to fly so brazenly in the face of the principles on which the devolution was granted – and, indeed, their own commitments over it – does beggar belief.

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Next time they attack others for intransigence and broken commitments, maybe they should pause for self reflection. Only they needn’t bother with a mirror. Just look out to sea.

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