Comhairle nan Eilean Siar has welcomed today’s announcement by the Prime Minister of an Islands Growth Deal for the Outer Hebrides, Orkney and Shetland.
The Deal comprises an investment of £50m from the UK Government and £50m from the Scottish Government and will now allow a suite of projects, developed by the Comhairle and its public and private sector partners, to move towards delivery.
Leader of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, Councillor Roddie Mackay said: “The Deal announcement today is the culmination of a lot of hard work between the Comhairle, our Islands Council partners and both Governments in recent years years and represents a good outcome for the Islands. In per capita terms the overall value of the Deal compares very favourably to other Deals in Scotland and this good result is due to the high quality of the Deal submission made by the Comhairle and our partners.
“The announcement is also a vote of confidence by both Governments in the economy and future of the Outer Hebrides. Our islands have unrivalled natural resources, we offer a world class welcome to visitors, we have some of the richest renewable energy resources in Europe, we have an innovative, adaptable workforce and an enterprising culture and heritage sector. All these areas were recognised by both Governments as they assessed the final value of the Islands Growth Deal. These are areas we hope to capitalise on and further develop as Growth Deal funding comes on stream.
“I am, however, highly aware of the challenges faced by our economy. Our islands have major population and structural challenges that have been exacerbated by the on-going Covid-19 pandemic. To overcome some of these challenges and to effect the transformational change our Islands need will require sustained investment over the coming years. I am hopeful, however, that this excellent Islands Growth Deal outcome is the first step in that on-going investment in our island economies and communities”
Cllr Mackay concluded, “Working closely with Highlands and Islands Enterprise and our other partners we will now seek to build detailed business cases and undertake further work with the Government to prioritise how we invest the Deal funds”
The Islands Deal proposals are presently based around a suite of five projects:
· Outer Hebrides Energy Hub
· Outer Hebrides Destination Development
· Spaceport 1
· Primary Industries Development
· Outer Hebrides Campus Development
A number of innovation projects linking the Outer Hebrides, Orkney and Shetland are also being developed. These three joint-islands projects are under the following themes:
· Skills, Talent Attraction and Entrepreneurial Support
· Island Centre for Net Zero Carbon
· Creative Islands and Wellbeing