The SNP Scottish Government has worked with the ‘Our Islands, Our Future’ campaign and the Islands Strategic Group to develop proposals that meet the unique needs of Scotland’s islands.
This work has led to the passing of the Islands Act to empower our island communities and to support economic growth. The Act introduces measures to support and help meet the unique needs of Scotland’s islands now and in the future. It will also seek to help create the right environment for sustainable growth and empowered communities.
We are already supporting transport links to our islands. Road Equivalent Tariff has been rolled out to all ferry routes in the Clyde and Hebrides network, delivering significantly reduced ferry fares. We introduced a 20% reduction on passenger and car fares on the Aberdeen – Lerwick and Kirkwall – Lerwick ferry services this summer, and remain committed to continue to pursue all avenues to deliver RET for Orkney and Shetland.
We will support the implementation of the new £3.5 million Ferries Resilience Fund to upgrade equipment on existing ferries to reduce the risk of vessels breaking down and get them back into service for our islands more quickly if they do.
We will also develop an Islands passport scheme as a marketing initiative to encourage people to visit more of Scotland’s 80 inhabited islands.
To support the building on new affordable housing in rural communities, we are investing £5 million in an Islands Housing Fund.
And we will also use new powers to ensure our island communities are able to control and determine how to invest 100 per cent of locally raised Crown Estate revenues.
At Westminster we will also campaign for a UK government funding commitment for a Deal for the Islands of Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles.