Charles moots 'Surfbury' moneyspinner in poverty wracked Cornwall

Tony Gosling tony at
Mon Aug 11 19:30:13 BST 2014

Is the 600-year-old Duchy of Cornwall fit for purpose?
Morning News  |  Posted: August 11, 2014
By Phil Goodwin, WMN reporter, Twitter: @Goodwin_Phil
Prince Charles  also Duke of Cornwall  is a regu

The Duchy of Cornwall is under fire from all 
corners of the Westcountry. Phil Goodwin takes a 
look at the moves to apply modern principles to 
the heir to the throne’s ancient source of income.
For centuries the Duchy of Cornwall was seemingly 
immune to scrutiny but recently the landed estate 
of the Prince of Wales has come under pressure to reform.
Prince Charles’ lucrative holding, which covers 
vast swathes of Devon and Cornwall, including 
most of the Isles of Scilly, has been the subject 
of a string of attempts to shine a light into its secretive world.
The Guardian newspaper has been fighting a public 
battle to force the release of private 
communication between the prince and ministers 
amid concern the future king is too influential on Government policy.
The Duke of Cornwall is also battling a court 
decision forced by a Cornish environmentalist, 
which said the Duchy was effectively operating as 
a public body and should release information 
under the Freedom of Information Act.
Now Labour peer Lord Berkeley, who lives in 
Polruan, near Fowey, is proposing an Early Day 
Motion in the House of Lords to debate a raft of 
privileges enjoyed by the Duchy, including that it is exempt from paying tax.
Lord Berkeley told the Western Morning News: “We 
are just trying to raise awareness – and consider 
whether the Duchy is a private or a public sector 
body. If it is in the 
 then it should behave and be taxed like the 
private sector is elsewhere. I believe in fair 
treatment and this is just one of those things 
crying out that it is not fair. Charles’ people 
have invited me to a meeting – I want to discuss 
my Bill and they want to tell me how the Duchy 
works, so it will be interesting.”
The Duchy was established in 1337 to provide 
income for the male heir to the throne.
The Prince of Wales became the 24th Duke of 
Cornwall on the Queen’s accession to the throne in 1952.
At the age of 21, in 1969, he became entitled to 
the full income of the Duchy and took over its 
management, becoming the longest-serving Duke of 
Cornwall in 2012. The estate extends far beyond 
Cornwall – covering more than 200 square miles 
(53,134 hectares to be exact) of land across 23 
counties, mostly in the South West. It comprises 
arable and livestock farms, residential and 
commercial properties, as well as forests, rivers, quarries, and coastline.
Dartmoor prison, one third of the national park 
including 50 houses, five pubs, four hotels and a 
variety of small rural workshops for rent are 
part of the portfolio. Hundreds of ancient 
monuments, including castles such as Restormel, 
Tintagel and Launceston belong to the prince as 
do a third of all residential buildings on Scilly.
The latest accounts released last month showed 
that Prince Charles received £19m from the 
holding last year – on which he voluntarily pays 
higher rate tax – against a balance of £834m.
Responding to the Bill to strip the Duchy of its 
“Crown status” St Ives Liberal Democrat MP Andrew 
George, who represents Scilly, said those 
promoting “the distinctiveness of Cornwall 
recognise the value and potential of the Duchy of Cornwall”.
He added that Lord Berkeley’s proposals look 
designed to “settle a score” rather than 
“advancing the interests of the local people”. 
However, not all those in West Cornwall are in 
accord with the prince. Michael Bruton spent four 
years trying to get information from the Duchy on 
how it manages oyster beds on the Helford River.
It claims that it is a private entity, and is 
therefore exempt from the Environmental 
Information Regulations, while lawyers acting for 
Mr Bruton, who lives on the river, have 
repeatedly appealed against the Duchy’s decision, 
arguing that it should be treated as a public 
body because it has control of rivers and 
coastline. Mr Bruton wants to know if the Duchy 
carried out an environmental impact assessment 
before it introduced non-native species to the 
Port Navas Oyster Farm, which lies within a conservation area.
He now awaits the result of a test case, in which 
an anglers’ group has demanded information from 
three water companies about emissions into 
rivers, which will determine whether private 
bodies can be treated as “hybrids” of private and 
public bodies for the purposes of requests made under the EIR.
John Kirkhope, a lawyer and visiting research 
fellow at Plymouth University, said the fact that 
the Bill had “stimulated a response” from the 
prince showed that pressure was beginning to have 
some “consequence”. Dr Kirkhope, who completed a 
PhD titled, the “Duchy of Cornwall – a feudal 
remnant”, said the current state of the estate’s 
affairs had not always been like this.
“Our Victorian ancestors didn’t put up with this, 
in fact Queen Victoria paid income tax long 
before it was re-introduced by the Queen in 1993. 
We are just asking them to do today what they did 
in the 1800s. If Prince Charles says the Duchy is 
a private estate then let’s remove Crown immunity 
for which it is not now subject to criminal sanction.
“The Duchy obscures how much the royals cost us. 
If we take back into the Crown estate we would 
have to pay Prince Charles from the Sovereign 
Grant. This could mean a Civil List of up to £37m 
a year. They have managed to accumulate benefits 
and privileges from the recent past and tell us 
they are ancient, when they are not.”

Special rights the Duchy enjoys
Not required to pay corporation tax.
Entitled to all property and assets of anyone who 
dies in Cornwall without heirs or leaving a will.
Right to all treasure from ships wrecked on the 
Cornish shores, which it owns most of, and any 
“royal fish” such as wales, porpoises and sturgeon.
Lands not subject to compulsory purchase orders, 
such as for new road schemes or rail tracks, and needs to agree the sale.
Exempt from the Right to Buy legislation which 
allows council tenants to buy their rented homes 
at a discount based on the length of their tenancy.
Enjoys Crown immunity from criminal prosecution for many of its activities.

Legal wrangle goes on over Duchy’s oyster farm
The Duchy has been ordered to hand over 
environmental data about a controversial oyster 
farm it owns on the Helford river.
Judges ruled it is a “public authority” that is 
subject to environmental regulations.
In a decision that could have far-reaching 
consequences for Prince Charles’ other private 
business interests, the estate was ordered to 
hand information concerning the environmental 
impact of the Port Navas oyster farm to local 
campaigner Michael Bruton, who claims that the 
farm is causing damage to the natural habitat.
The farm, owned by the Duchy of Cornwall Oyster 
Farm Ltd, cultivates non-native Pacific oysters 
in the Lower Fal and Helford special area of conservation, near Falmouth.
However, the case now hinges on a case being 
heard in Europe brought by an anglers’ group 
against three water companies which could influence an appeal.

First there was Dorset's Poundbury – stand by for Surfbury
The Duchy is currently engaged in two projects in 
Newquay, including approved plans for 800 homes, 
shops, a supermarket and a primary school.
The project, known locally as Surfbury, will be 
based east of the town centre and is similar to 
the Prince’s Poundbury development in Dorset.
The plans were approved by Cornwall Council but 
some councillors are unhappy the development has 
not been able to deliver more affordable homes.
A second mixed-use neighbourhood is planned on 
Duchy-owned land on the south-western edge of the 
town centre, at Tregunnel Hill.
It comprises 174 high quality homes, including 48 
two and three-bedroomed affordable homes, and 
employment space for around 30 jobs.
Work on the site started in 2012 and will be completed in 2015
Read more at 

Cornwall is officially the poorest area in the UK
|  Posted: May 06, 2014
Cornwall is officially the poorest area in the UK

Comments (36) Cornwall is the UK's poorest region 
- and is now less wealthy than Poland, Lithuania and Hungary.

Statistics produced by Eurostat - the EU's 
equivalent of the office of national statistics - 
show average wages in the Duchy now stand at £14,300 a year.
The relative wealth of the area is then driven 
further down by the cost of living - meaning 
people here have less spending power than most of the rest of Europe.
Cornwall is ranked equally with the Welsh valleys 
as the poorest part of the UK, and is in the top 
ten most deprived areas in western Europe.
Average wages in Britain stand at £23,300 - just 
above the EU average of £20,750.
However, inner London is the richest part of the 
whole EU, with average wages standing at more than £71,000.
*What do you think? Is Cornwall neglected by 
Westminster in favour of the south east?
Or are the lower earnings the price you pay for 
choosing to live in the Duchy despite its 
remoteness from the rest of the country?
Let us know what you think using the comment form below:
Read more at  
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