A £100 million investment in the future economic prosperity of Orkney, Shetland and nan Eilean Siar (Western Isles) has been agreed with the heads of terms for the Islands Growth Deal being signed.
Representatives of the UK and Scottish governments joined the leaders of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar (Western Isles Council), Orkney Islands Council and Shetland Islands Council to sign the agreement.
It commits both governments to work collaboratively with Islands Deal partners to deliver a deal focused on: Placing the islands at the forefront of the transition to net zero; supporting growth in key sectors of opportunity, such as tourism, food and drink, space and creative industries; and supporting thriving, sustainable communities.
The Islands Growth Deal will capitalise on the islands’ unique assets, with an investment of £50m each from the Scottish and UK governments and an anticipated £235m from project partners.
The 10-year programme of investment has a target of creating up to 1,300 jobs and tackling the depopulation concerns facing many parts of the three island archipelagos.
Partners will now be working towards the development of full business cases for approval by both governments, with the anticipation of funding being approved and released from 2022/23 onwards.
Commenting, Leader of Shetland Islands Council, Councillor Steven Coutts said: “Our ambitious deal proposals will provide significant economic growth in our islands. We can be confident that this investment in key projects will deliver lasting benefit for our island communities, Scotland and the UK.
“The signing of the heads of terms signals the collective commitment to see our islands as the attractive place to live, work, study and invest we know them to be.”
Leader of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, Councillor Roddie Mackay said: “We are delighted to have reached this stage in the process and to have secured this level of investment through the deal, which represents the highest per capita investment of any of the Scottish growth deals.
“Both UK and Scottish governments have recognised the significant assets and growth potential our islands have in areas, such as renewable energy resource, food and drink and tourism.
“Their commitment to invest in the Islands Deal projects will strengthen the contribution our islands make to the national economy and help address the challenges our island communities face, particularly as we now emerge from Covid-19.”