Queen's land exempted from climate change legislation after under-the-radar lobbying

It came about as the Scottish government tried to get the Queen's consent.
It came about as the Scottish government tried to get the Queen's consent. Photo credit: Getty Images.

Lawyers for Queen Elizabeth II reportedly lobbied Scottish ministers to gain an exemption for her land from a key piece of climate change legislation.

According to a report from The Guardian on Thursday, lawyers for the Queen wanted her massive Scottish estate exempted from legislation aimed at accelerating the roll-out of pipelines to heat properties with renewable energy. The legislation would allow companies and public agencies to compulsorily buy land to construct the infrastructure.

However, according to The Guardian, the monarch officials gained an exemption through a process called the Queen's consent. This is a mechanism through which the monarch can see legislation that affects her interests in advance and give approval for it to progress.

The media outlet said that in January a top Scottish official wrote to the Queen's most senior aide asking for her consent to the legislation. Her lawyers reportedly raised concerns with the Bill and documents show Paul Wheelhouse, the then-Scottish Energy Minister, agreed to an amendment addressing the issue. A courtier for the Queen later said she had given her consent to the Bill. 

The Guardian says that when the legislation was introduced, an amendment was filed preventing companies or agencies from compelling the Queen to sell her land for pipelines to be built. 

One politician who objected to the amendment as it gave the Queen special treatment told The Guardian that he was "shocked to discover that the amendment was put in place in order to secure Queen's consent". 

"That should have been stated in the debate. If changes are being requested in order to secure Queen’s consent, people should be told about that and it appears in this case we were not told," Andy Wightman said.

But Buckingham Palace says that the "purely formal" process in which the royal household is consulted "does not change the nature of any such Bill".

A spokesperson for the Scottish Government told the UK media outlet that the Crown "should be subject to regulatory requirements on the same basis as everyone else, unless there is a legitimate reason for an exemption or variation".

"However, Crown consent is required by law if a bill impacts the private property or interests of the sovereign - and that is what happened in this case."