King Charles forgets date whilst signing guestbook
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He has asked the Government to change the way the monarchy is funded to ensure that the extra revenue from six new offshore wind farm projects, which could bring him an extra £250million annually and almost quadruple his current income from the taxpayer, is used for the nation’s benefit instead.
Royal sources stressed that The King, as he made clear in his Christmas broadcast, was mindful of the cost-of-living crisis facing the country in making the move.
The new wind farm projects agreed upon today, three in the North Sea off the Yorkshire and Lincolnshire coast and three off North Wales, Cumbria, and Lancashire, will provide a major boost to Britain’s efforts to reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
They will swell the coffers of the Crown Estate, whose profits are used as an index to determine the amount of taxpayers’ money that the monarch receives in the Sovereign Grant each year.
Option fees paid by energy firms will bring the hereditary property empire, which owns the seabed around the coast, an extra £1billion a year over the next three to 10 years for the six new offshore projects.
They are set to produce enough electricity to power seven million homes and once they are operational, the firms will pay rent according to how much energy they generate.
Charles III would be entitled to a sum equivalent to 25 per cent of that £1 billion figure – £250million – annually over the next few years if it is translated into pure profit in the Crown Estate’s annual accounts under the current funding formula for the Sovereign Grant.
But instead, The King has asked the three trustees of the Sovereign Grant, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, Chancellor Jeremy Hunt, and the monarch’s Keeper of the Privy Purse Sir Michael Stevens, to cut the 25 percent figure as part of a five-yearly review of the funding formula to ensure that he does not receive any of the extra money from the expansion of Britain’s booming offshore wind industry.
A Buckingham Palace spokeswoman said: “In view of the offshore energy windfall, the Keeper of the Privy Purse has written to the Prime Minister and Chancellor to share the King’s wish that this windfall is directed for the wider public good, rather than to the Sovereign Grant, through an appropriate reduction in the proportion of Crown Estate surplus that funds the Sovereign Grant.”
The three grant trustees, Mr Sunak, Mr Hunt, and Sir Michael, and their advisers at the Treasury will decide on what percentage the funding formula will be cut to in the coming months after delaying the five-year review last year until a decision was made on whether the new wind farms could press ahead despite environmental concerns about the risk to sea bird populations.
Royal author Christopher Wilson told the Daily Express: “The windfall we’re talking about today is colossal, and Charles is right to say the money should be used for the wider public good. Some might even argue that since wind is given to us by nature, it should not benefit a sole individual or family.”
The King used his first Christmas broadcast last month to sympathise with families struggling with the cost-of-living crisis and praise individuals, charities and faith groups supporting those in need.
He spoke about the “great anxiety and hardship” experienced by many trying to “pay their bills and keep their families fed and warm” during his televised message, which featured footage of a food bank and other scenes of meals being distributed to the homeless.
The Sovereign Grant covers the running costs of the royal household and events such as official receptions, investitures and garden parties.
The percentage increased from 15 percent to 25 percent in 2017 to cover the cost of a 10-year programme of £369 million’s worth of repairs at the Palace.
The Grant goes up if Crown Estate profits increase, but it does not fall when they decrease.
The capital value of the portfolio is more than £15billion.
King Charles, 74, is a strong supporter of offshore wind and has equally championed some projects on the land, unlike his father Prince Philip, who thought onshore wind was a waste of time and a blot on the landscape.
He may yet benefit from an uplift in the overall profits of the Crown Estate though. Under the funding formula, the Sovereign Grant cannot go down even if the Crown Estate profits fall. Funding has been flat for the last two years at £86.3million, mainly because the Crown Estate’s property empire in London’s West End and elsewhere was hit by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Although the reigning sovereign is nominally the owner of the Crown Estate, every monarch since George III in 1760 has surrendered 100 percent of its profits to the Treasury in return for a sum from the taxpayer, originally called the Civil List but now called the Sovereign Grant.
The profits are surrendered to acknowledge that Crown land revenues are no longer sufficient to pay for the costs of the state, such as His Majesty’s ships, prisons and courts. Last year the Crown Estate made £312.7million profit. UK public spending this year is expected to top £1,182billion.
Offshore wind currently accounts for around 14 percent of the UK’s electricity demand, including in Scotland where the Crown Estate is run separately, but it is set to rise dramatically over the coming years. The UK already has the second largest offshore wind farm industry in the world and has already awarded rights equivalent to 41 percent of current electricity demand.
Dan Labbad, the chief executive of the Crown Estate, said: “The UK’s offshore wind achievements to date are nothing short of remarkable, and this next generation of projects point to an even more exciting and dynamic future
“They demonstrate the far-reaching value that our world-class offshore wind sector can deliver for the nation: homegrown energy for all, jobs and investment for communities, revenue for the taxpayer, clean energy for the benefit of the environment and a considerate, sustainable approach which respects our rich biodiversity.”
Energy and Climate Minister Graham Stuart said: “Britain’s position as the European leader in offshore wind shows no signs of letting up. These six projects demonstrate how areas across the UK can contribute to ensuring Britain meets its world-leading ambition of deploying up to 50GW of offshore wind by 2030.
“Offshore wind is at the heart of our goal to secure clean, affordable and resilient energy supply for all in the UK, while bringing major business, investment and job opportunities along with it.”
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