Wales should set up wealth fund with offshore wind farm profits – Plaid Cymru

Wales should set up its own national wealth fund bankrolled by taking over the profits of offshore wind farms owned by the King, Plaid Cymru has said.

Ahead of the party’s General Election campaign launch it has called for the creation of a “Welsh Sovereign Wealth Fund” which would use the takings of the Crown Estate’s portfolio in the nation to invest in communities across Wales.

Plaid’s Westminster leader Liz Saville Roberts said her party’s first policy announcement of the campaign was “new territory” not explored by any other political party, and would help give the Welsh Government the tools to end a “legacy of poverty”.

The party pointed to estimates which suggest several new offshore wind farms planned in Welsh waters could generate £43 billion in rents as the basis for the fund.

Coronavirus Downing Street
Plaid Cymru Westminster leader Liz Saville Roberts (Yui Mok/PA)

It likened the proposal to Norway’s sovereign wealth fund, set up on the back of North Sea oil profits, which is worth approximately 250,000 US dollars per Norwegian citizen.

Plaid Cymru has previously called for the Welsh Government to be given devolved control over the Crown Estate in Wales, in a similar arrangement to that offered to Scotland since 2017.

Ms Saville Roberts, the MP for Dwyfor Meirionnydd, said its latest announcement was a “hardening” of Plaid’s previous ambitions.

“We are looking at hardening our line on the Crown Estate. We are taking it into new territory where nobody else has been to previously,” she told the PA news agency.

“We are actually talking about going beyond the fact that we know the Crown Estate in Wales, the figure everyone bandies around is £853 million as things stand, but actually taking that and starting to create a plan for that to be beneficial for Wales.”

The Crown Estate is an independent company which belongs to the monarch for the duration of their reign, and the value of its land and assets in Wales are worth £853 million.

The revenue from its £16 billion property portfolio flows directly to the Treasury, but 25% of the annual profits go to pay for the Monarch’s official duties.

The estate owns the UK seabed out to 12 nautical miles and has jurisdiction over new offshore wind farms.

On the wealth fund’s benefits, Ms Saville Roberts added: “There is a legacy of poverty that we have had from the other extractive industries.

“If you look at coal, if you look at – as I have got – the slate quarries, we have got granite quarries. We have poor housing, built cheaply, in which people still have to live, and yet we are paying in North Wales some of the highest standing charges for electricity.

“As things are, we are being kept in poverty and denied the means of improving our own lot. From our policy point of view, this is just one serious way of saying ‘OK, give us the tools and we will build a better future for ourselves’.”

Plaid Cymru is expected to launch its General Election campaign with an event in North Wales on Thursday.