'Fight them on the beaches'

A SINN Fein councillor in Moyle wants to see an end to money having to be paid to the Crown Estates for use of the seabed and shorelines around the coast.

Cushendall representative Oliver McMullan (pictured)said the money councils like Moyle have to pay out would be better being spent for the direct benefit of local ratepayers.

The Crown Estate say their two main objectives are to benefit the taxpayer by paying the revenue from their assets directly to the Treasury; and to enhance the value of the estate and the income it generates.

They own the shoreline below the tidal mark and also the seabed but give leases to organisations.

Councillor McMullan said: "There is no rhyme or reason why we should pay for that. The money we give out every year to the Crown Estate would be better used for the ratepayers."

Council official Moira Quinn was unable to say how much they pay to the Crown Estate each year but Councillor McMullan said it was a "sizeable amount".

Sinn Fein councillor Cathal Newcombe said he agreed with his colleague and said the topic had been raised at a conference regarding the management of beaches.

He said one suggestion was that rather than pay money to the Crown Estate the cash is used in the management of shorelines.

SDLP councillor Madeline Black said she would support that but Council Vice-Chairperson, Councillor Robert McIlroy (DUP) said he did not think the Crown Estate would change the way they do things.

"You can ask but I don't think you will get," he said.

Councillor Black replied: "If you don't ask you don't get".

The comments were made in connection with a slipway at Bellisk in Cushendall.

The Crown Estate website says: 'With a property portfolio encompassing many of the UK's cityscapes, ancient forests, farms, parkland, coastline and communities, The Crown Estate's role as employer, influencer, manager, guardian, facilitator and revenue creator is unique.

'We have two main objectives: to benefit the taxpayer by paying the revenue from our assets directly to the Treasury; and to enhance the value of the estate and the income it generates.

'Our portfolio has a value of over 6 billion, demanding the utmost in professionalism and efficiency from our staff and management to create added value for everyone - the people, businesses and communities who deal with us, and the nation as a whole.

'Our estate is part of the fabric of Britain - from beef farms in the north of Scotland to Portland stone mining in Dorset, from offices in the West End to affordable homes in the East End, from forests in the West Country to parkland in Windsor.

'Even though everyone is familiar with the concept of land ownership, many people are surprised to learn that the seabed around the UK is also owned. It is The Crown Estate which owns virtually the entire seabed out to the 12 nautical mile territorial limit, including the rights to explore and utilise the natural resources of the UK continental shelf (excluding oil, gas and coal).

'More recently the Energy Act 2004 vested rights to The Crown Estate to license the generation of renewable energy on the continental shelf within the Renewable Energy Zone out to 200nm.

'We also own around 55% of the foreshore, the area between mean high and mean low water (spring tides in Scotland) and approximately half of the beds of estuaries and tidal rivers in the United Kingdom.

'We do not, however, own the water column nor do we govern public rights such as navigation and marine fisheries.

'Our coastal dealings are many and varied including ports, moorings and wildfowling. Generally we do not sell areas of foreshore or seabed. Instead we grant leases or licences for works and activities, which currently number more than 2,000. Our main leaseholders are local authorities, ports and harbours, conservation bodies and statutory bodies.

'In 2008/09 marine estate revenue was 49.7m, which equates to 16.3% of the total for The Crown Estate,' said the website.