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Second ministerial visit on Monday

THE GROWING campaign to bring the Crown Estate under Scottish control will be one of the issues discussed during a visit by new Scottish secretary Michael Moore to Shetland on Monday.

Mr Moore will meet representatives from the Lerwick Port Authority and the local fishing industry, fitting in a short trip to Sullom Voe as well.

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His visit coincides with that of Scottish finance secretary John Swinney, who will be quizzing Shetland Islands Council on the improvement plan ordered by the Accounts Commission.

While in Shetland, Mr Moore will be lobbied by party colleague Tavish Scott who wants to see the Crown Estate’s controls of the Scottish seabed transferred to Scotland.

Mr Moore will hear from Lerwick Port Authority how the Crown Estate charges a lease for an area of seabed that has been reclaimed for future development as part of a huge investment by the port.

The Crown Estate can only charge a lease for the use of the seabed it owns once somebody invests in developing it.

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Mr Scott said: “This meeting will play an important part in the campaign to get back control of our seabed.

“In the short term, the Crown Estate has to be told that it needs to return to its former policy of selling the seabed below harbour developments. Ports such as Lerwick should not have to pay a high rental to them year after year.

“But I will also use the meeting to make again the strong case for control over the seabed to be included in the further powers to be devolved to the Scottish Parliament.”

He added that it was vital for full control over the seabed to pass to Scotland so that the country could reap the benefits of the developing marine renewable energy industries.

Only last week, Scottish environment minister Richard Lochhead called for the income generated from the Scottish seabed to be shared with Scotland and its local communities.

Prior to May 2010, Mr Moore’s party colleague and fellow MP Alistair Carmichael, now the UK government’s deputy chief whip, was involved in a long running campaign to abolish the office of the Secretary of State for Scotland.

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