Islands by their very nature are special places with special requirements. The Western Isles, Shetland and Orkney each have a strong sense of identity. What we share is an abundance of natural resources and a pride in our cultural traditions.
Scotland’s three Islands Councils have laid out their vision for a stronger future following the Independence Referendum of 2014. We are calling for a commitment that whatever the outcome, the needs and status of island areas are clearly recognised in the new era for Scotland.
We are working closely together to identify shared opportunities and challenges and have produced a joint mission statement setting out our intention to engage and negotiate with political leaders and decision makers on either side of the independence debate.
Whatever the outcome of the referendum, we wish to see the special position and needs of the UK’s three largest island groups be fully taken into account in the new constitutional arrangements for Scotland.
We will be seeking additional powers and resources to give us a greater ability to shape the destinies of Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles.
These could include:
Control of the sea bed around the islands, allowing revenues currently paid to the Crown Estate to be channelled into local needs.
New grid connections to the Scottish mainland to allow world class wave, tidal and wind energy resources to generate maximum benefits for the islands.
New fiscal arrangements to allow the islands to benefit more directly from the harvesting of local resources, including renewable energy and fisheries.
Clear recognition of the status of the three island groups in the new Scottish Constitutional Settlement and within the European Governance Framework.
A paper has been prepared which sets out the principles which it is hoped will be examined and discussed during the debate on Scotland’s constitutional future.
More detailed proposals will follow in the weeks and months to come. Discussions are underway with both the Scottish and UK Governments.