The decision follows an independent review carried out on behalf of The Crown Estate, which also set the standard lease term at twenty-five years from 2010.
Alex Adrian, Offshore Operations Manager (Scotland) for The Crown Estate said: “The shellfish industry plays a critically important role in the economic well-being of communities around Scotland’s coasts. We will be adopting all the recommendations contained in the review, as they will help address the challenges faced by the industry and encourage confidence and participation in the sector.”
The review was carried out by James Barr Limited in consultation with industry, regulatory authorities as well as The Crown Estate.
David Scott, a shellfish industry expert based at Stirling University also assisted. The review sets out shellfish farm lease terms and conditions for the next five years. The recommendations, which The Crown Estate believes will strengthen the sector, include:
- Rents will reduce by an average of 15 per cent across all species sectors including mussels, scallops and oysters.
- Leases started after January 1, 2010 will be for a standard term of twenty-five years instead of fifteen years.
- The lease agreement will formalise assignation rights, subject to landlord’s consent.
- The start-up discount for new leases will be extended to cover the first four years of an agreement, to take account of planning application fees that now apply, beginning with 0 per cent in the first year and rising in increments of 25 per cent year on year.
- Rents will be calculated based on the metre length of consented equipment.
Other changes take in issues around multiple species rents and multiple equipment discounts. The outer island discount will also be maintained under the new proposals but will reduce in phases over two years from its current level of 20 per cent to 10 per cent.
Commenting on the review, Walter Speirs, Chairman of the Association of Scottish Shellfish Growers said: “ASSG is very pleased with the outcome of the recent Crown Estate review of rents. All of our concerns have been addressed, to our satisfaction. This should give our industry the opportunity to expand further, with increased security of tenure provided by the longer term leases. It demonstrates quite clearly the commitment of the Crown estate to facilitating growth in the shellfish sector.”