Government by the sea

A recent press release reminded us of the existence of an infrastructure investor that it can be easy to overlook: the UK Treasury.

Through the Crown Estate, the government’s public finance and economic policy arm owns a swathe of coastal assets. In mid-August, the Estate reappointed Cooke & Arkwright as managing agents for its coastal portfolio in Wales – including infrastructure such as ports, marinas, cables and pipelines.

Indeed, the Estate is one of the biggest coastal landowners in the UK, owning almost half of the country’s foreshore and seabed. It is also an important supporter of offshore renewable energy.

With an £11.5 billion (€16.2 billion; $18.0 billion) portfolio of assets in total, the Estate returns 100 percent of its profits to the Treasury. Over the last 10 years, this has amounted to more than £2 billion.

Of course, we could have been talking about an even more prestigious owner of the assets – Crown Estate revenues having accrued to the monarch of the day until George III surrendered such rights in 1760, at which point the revenues transferred to the Treasury.