Governments sign growth deal anticipated to deliver £335m boost to Scottish islands

Orkney (Shutterstock)

THE Scottish and UK governments are to each invest £50 million in the future economic prosperity of Orkney, Shetland and the Outer Hebrides.

The investment comes as part of the heads of terms for the islands growth deal, which was today (March 17) signed by the governments and island councils. The UK Government said the £100 million deal is anticipated to unlock a further £235 million of investment from project partners – delivering a combined £335 million boost for the islands.

The ten year programme of investment has the ambitious target of creating up to 1,300 jobs and tackling the depopulation concerns that the UK Government said faces many parts of the three island archipelagos.

The proposals, which are all subject to full business case approval, aim to put the islands at the forefront of the transition to net zero and support thriving, sustainable communities.

Some of the proposals which could receive investment include:

  • The Shell-volution – a new and innovative means of enabling expansion in the low carbon and sustainable mussel farming sector in Shetland, and more widely in Scotland.
  • The Orkney Community Vertical Farm – focused on agricultural innovation and creating an islands’ vertical farm.
  • Islands Centre for Net Zero – supporting the energy transition for all three island groups and creating sustainable “green” jobs within the islands for 300 people.
  • The Outer Hebrides Energy Hub – establishing the initial infrastructure necessary to support the production of Green Hydrogen from renewable energy (Onshore and Offshore Wind).
  • The Outer Hebrides Destination Development – focusing on key aspects of island heritage such as St Kilda, the world renowned Callanish standing stones and experiences based on the history of the islanders.

UK Government minister for Scotland, Iain Stewart, said, “Today we have signed a transformational deal which will bring jobs, investment and innovation to communities across all three island areas.

“These exciting plans show the path to a fairer, more sustainable, more prosperous future as we build back better from the pandemic.

“The UK Government’s £50 million investment will boost green jobs and innovation in: sustainable energy, health, tourism, food and drink, and decarbonisation.”