Concern over the estate’s future funding has been highlighted by the STFA who worried local authorities could not provide sustainable upkeep.
Management of the Crown Estate in Scotland must not be handed to local authorities because the ‘capital intensive occupation’ cannot survive without ‘adequate and continuous’ funding, the Scottish Tenant Farmers Association (STFA) has warned.
The Scottish Government, which is due to take control of the estate from central Government in April, has started a 12-week consultation to assess how existing assets should be best used to increase benefits to Scotland and ‘enhance value’.
STFA director Angus McCall said members were ‘concerned’ about proposals to give cash-strapped local authorities control of the Crown Estate and hoped responsibility for the 37,000-hectare (91,400-acre) estate would remain with the Scottish Government.
He said: “We have a number of Crown Estate tenants and we are looking to safeguard our position going forward.
“Farming is a capital intensive occupation and we must ensure the landlord is able to input frequent capital investment into farms to ensure farmers are able to continue a similar management to what they are used to.”
NFU Scotland president Allan Bowie previously said investment from the Crown Estate into rural assets through funds generated by other parts of the estate may no longer be possible if the estate became fragmented.
But Mr McCall praised the devolution for the potential to present ‘a lot of opportunities’ for tenant farmers to buy farms and for new entrants to get their foot on the farming ladder.
“I know some who would like to buy farms on the Crown Estate and the Scottish Government has been clear it would look at these proposals sympathetically,” Mr McCall added.
Roseanna Cunningham, Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform, said the consultation was a ‘genuine opportunity to change the fabric of Scottish society’ and control of the Crown Estate should ‘rest with the people of Scotland’.
She added: “This consultation is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to help shape the future management of the Crown Estate in Scotland.”
The consultation will run from January 4 to March 29.