FIRST we had the Power Grab. Now we have the Money Grab, and it’s costing the Scottish taxpayer tens of millions of pounds.

The Crown Estate Scotland, which controls “royal” land and buildings plus the seabed, is supposed to be devolved with the Scottish Government gaining income from the agency.

READ MORE: What is the Crown Estate and what does Scotland control?

It has emerged that when the Crown Estate was devolved in the Scotland Act of 2016, its central headquarters in London kept hold of a significant investment – 50% of the highly successful Fort Kinnaird retail park on the east side of Edinburgh.

That Crown Estate share has just been sold to M&G Real Estate for a whopping £167m, and none of that money that will go to the Scottish Government.

The National:

Now SNP MSP Richard Lochhead is calling on the UK Crown Estate to pass to Crown Estate Scotland the £167m proceeds from the sale of its share in Fort Kinnaird, built by Sir John Hall and the late Jim Glass in the late 1980s and now the second largest retail park in the country.

Lochhead has revealed that during the negotiations over the devolution of the Crown Estate in 2016 the transfer of Fort Kinnaird was “point blank refused”.

The UK Crown Estate is currently undertaking a £1.5 billion redevelopment of its assets in Central London, including Regent Street and half of St James’s. At the same time, Crown Estate Scotland is having to sell off a tenanted farm in Fochabers in Moray to raise revenue.

The SNP say this may not have been necessary if the UK Government had originally agreed to designate Fort Kinnaird as a Scottish asset during the negotiations over the Scotland Bill.

The value of the site represents the equivalent of 60% of the total assets of Crown Estate Scotland.

To make it worse, new buyer M&G Estates is a London-based fund which has already started moving operations to Luxembourg because of Brexit.

Lochhead, pictured below, said: “The UK Government no doubt wants this shady cash grab kept below the radar – but Scotland is simply being conned.

“Just two years ago UK Ministers refused Scottish Government requests to devolve this site to the new Crown Estate Scotland, and it’s now clear that there are 167 million reasons why.

“Not only that – it’s a bitter pill to swallow that whilst Crown Estate Scotland is looking to sell off assets to raise funds to invest in its portfolio, its UK counterpart is currently undertaking a multi-billion pound redevelopment of its Central London assets – the funds from Fort Kinnaird would have been a significant amount of money for Crown Estate Scotland.

“Had this site been devolved, the Scottish Government could have reinvested such a huge windfall in transforming Crown Estate sites across the country, including Glenlivet and Fochabers estates, and villages and harbours in my constituency, and other sites across Scotland.

“Instead, the cash is disappearing from right under our noses.

“The UK Government needs to play fair and give Scotland the money we are owed to help support our communities particularly in our more rural and coastal areas.”

The National:

A spokesperson for The Crown Estate said: “The Scotland Act 2016, agreed by both Holyrood and UK Parliament, agreed that assets held in joint venture structures, rather than by The Crown Estate alone, were not included in the transfer to Scottish Ministers.

“The Crown Estate held a 50% interest in the Gibraltar Limited Partnership, with the remainder held by the Hercules Unit Trust, advised by British Land.

“This partnership owned Fort Kinnaird and Gallagher retail park in Cheltenham, England and was due end in September 2019; the partners decided not to extend. Fort Kinnaird is now owned in a new joint venture established between Hercules Unit Trust and M&G, and The Crown Estate has resumed sole ownership of Gallagher retail park.

“The Scotland Act 2016 provided that proceeds from the Gibraltar Limited Partnership would return to The Crown Estate.”