Press release: £100m growth deal to support green recovery and net zero ambitions of Scottish islands
The Leaders of the three Scottish island councils – the Orkney Islands, Shetland Islands and Comhairle nan Eilean Siar – have warmly welcomed announcements by the UK and Scottish Government’s that the islands will receive £50m from each towards the Islands Growth Deal.
The multimillion pound deal will provide investment for local projects across the Scottish islands, driving sustainable economic recovery and growth, creating jobs and attracting further private and public sector investment. A range of areas, including tourism, infrastructure, innovation, skills, energy transition, and renewable energy systems, will be targeted with the funding which will be invested over ten years.
Discussions will now continue towards agreeing a Heads of Terms along with more detail on the transformational projects to be funded.
Commenting in a joint statement, Councillors Roddie Mackay, James Stockan and Steven Coutts, Leaders of the Western Isles, Orkney and Shetland respectively, said the deal has the potential to transform the islands:
“We presented the UK and Scottish governments with a serious and ambitious set of proposals which reflected both the scale of our economic opportunities as well as the support required to create a sustainable future for our islands. We are delighted with the funding from both governments. We made our case, and throughout the process we felt both governments understood and recognised the opportunities our islands offer.”
The island councils worked with a wide range of business, academic, research and public sector partners in developing their ambitious Islands Growth Deal proposals.
To mark the announcement, Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Scottish Secretary Alister Jack visited Orkney today [Thursday 23 July] meeting with local sector representatives.
Councillor James Stockan said the visit had provided the perfect opportunity to discuss potential projects of major significance to Orkney and to the UK as a whole.
“The UK Government, in awarding its share of the funding, has recognised the potential our islands have to contribute significantly to the future prosperity of the country as a whole, as well as our own communities. Today’s visit is unprecedented in that it provided us with the chance to meet with the Prime Minister and highlight at first hand the economic opportunities we offer. Orkney has a well-earned reputation for innovation and pioneering research activity. That was in evidence today as we looked ahead to building projects of strategic importance to Scotland and the UK – that will deliver long term benefits for the people and the businesses of our islands.
EMEC’s Managing Director, Neil Kermode, met with Prime Minister Boris Johnson during his visit:
“The Prime Minister was genuinely engaged during our meeting today, and summed up the opportunities and challenges we put to him very thoroughly. We discussed Orkney’s role as a living laboratory for decarbonisation through renewables and sustainable development, providing an overview of some of the innovative projects around hydrogen, zero carbon shipping and aviation, wave and tidal energy technologies, and integrated energy systems.
“He appreciated the need for national recognition of Orkney’s achievements to date, and the support needed for the UK to build back greener. We requested a mandate to enable us to move faster to help our communities develop sustainably, and address the need for flexibility in regulations that work for our future prosperity rather than getting stuck in archaic rules developed for the outdated ways of the past. I’m looking forward to continuing these discussions with his government over the coming months.”
Speaking to the BBC, Mr Johnson mentioned Orkney’s work to progress “amazing new green technology” and how it can support economic recovery following the COVID-19 pandemic:
“What you want to do is build back better together with a green recovery and here in Orkney they are streets ahead on hydrogen technology, on green technology. Around Orkney they could supply 25% of the UK’s [electricity] needs [from renewables] if they had the infrastructure to go with it so we’re looking at ways to support the council here, to support local leaders in their ambitions.”
Scottish Secretary, Alister Jack said:
“The City Region and Growth Deals will be crucial to our economic recovery from coronavirus. Today’s announcement means that every corner of Scotland will benefit from these.
“We look forward to working with our partners across the islands and the devolved administration in Scotland to develop innovative and effective proposals.”
Scottish Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity, Michael Matheson, said:
“The Islands Growth Deal is the final regional growth deal to be announced and marks our commitment to invest across all of Scotland, which is something we have pushed for.
“This significant investment will support islanders’ ambitions to create world-class visitor destinations, lead the way to a low carbon future, support growth and future industries and help the communities thrive by attracting and retaining young talent, driving inclusive and sustainable economic growth and delivering long lasting benefits for people living across the three island authority areas.”
Regional Growth Deals are agreements between the Scottish Government, the UK Government and local government designed to bring about long-term strategic approaches to improving regional economies.
The specific projects and activities to be supported will be announced over the coming months, as part of a Heads of Terms agreement.
This deal does not cover all Scotland’s 96 inhabited islands as many of the islands are already covered by other regional growth deals, including within the Inverness and Highland City Region Deal, the Argyll and Bute Growth Deal and the Ayrshire Growth Deal.