Queen’s lawyers have secured an amendment to Scottish green energy law

Queen Elizabeth
The Queen spends a week every year at Holyrood Palace in Edinburgh and also holidays at Balmoral Castle in Aberdeenshire/Getty Images

The BBC reported that a draft law in the Scottish Parliament was amended to exempt the Queen’s land from measures to encourage green energy after her lawyers raised “concerns”.

It said the changes meant land owned by the royal household could not be subject to compulsory purchase orders without  the monarch’s approval.

Buckingham Palace insisted the process did not alter the nature of any laws.

But Liberal Democrat MSP Willie Rennie said such lobbying – details of which were revealed in a Freedom of Information request by a party researcher – should have been declared.

The Heat Networks Bill encouraged the use of underground pipes to heat homes and buildings rather than boilers powered by fossil fuels.

The documents show correspondence took place between the Scottish government and Buckingham Palace around the procedure known as Queen’s consent, where the monarch is given sight of legislation which affects her interests.

The concerns centred on the potential use of compulsory purchase orders – a legal process by which land or property can be obtained, for instance for major infrastructure projects, without the the consent of the owner if deemed in the greater public interest.

land around Balmoral Castle,
The Queen owns 50,000 acres of land around Balmoral Castle, pictured, including grouse moors, forestry and farmland/PA Media

Setting out the need for the exemption in the Scottish Parliament, Mr Wheelhouse said that in the rare cases where the Queen’s estate could be used for a heat network, different provisions were needed for the use of compulsory purchase orders on Her Majesty’s land.

He said licence holders for heat networks were likely to be private enterprises, as opposed to public authorities which are more typically involved with compulsory purchase.

Mr Rennie said lobbying from Buckingham Palace should have been declared.

He said: “This research shows that Queen’s consent isn’t just some arcane legacy from parliament’s past. It’s a live process. Laws are secretly being changed behind Scotland’s back as a result.

“That’s not what people would expect in a democracy. I’m sure people will be shocked to see the Scottish government’s willingness to pander to the process.

“Their readiness to hide it from public view shows they have no interest in acting transparently.”

Mr Rennie added there should be “no secret doors to changing the law” and called on the Scottish government to fully share how the process influences law making.

Queen’s consent for the Heat Networks Bill was sought in January this year, the documents show, though the content of many exchanges was redacted.

Source: BBC
Image source: Getty-BBC