Plan to boost Fair Isle community

New houses, the refurbishment of empty properties, and finding ways of attracting up to 10 new people within the next five years.

Those are the ambitious proposals set out in a far-reaching action plan for Fair Isle, which will be unveiled at Lerwick’s town hall today.

The proposals have been put together to help secure the sparsely-populated community’s long-term future following a recent drop in the population figures.

Last year numbers in Fair Isle dipped to their lowest level, of 55 people, in several years.

But today the vision for the island’s future will be outlined in a development plan – Securing Fair Isle’s Future, a Plan for Action.

Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) and Shetland Islands Council have provided financial assistance to support the plan, along with some funds from Fair Isle Community Association.

The plan’s proposals for developing the island include, attracting up to 10 new people to the island in the next three to five years; as well as creating and improving properties in the isle and improving the lifeline ferry service.

The island is renowned for its knitting as well as for its birdlife. The presence of a bird observatory, with the brand new building opened in 2010, has been a key factor in ensuring Fair Isle remains viable.

Fiona Mitchell, chairwoman of Fair Isle Community Association, said: “The production of the development plan has been a very positive process and we are now looking forward to working with stakeholders to realise the development outcomes and aspirations of the community.”

Island resident Jimmy Stout said: “Ideally we would need a couple of young families to come with young children because there are a lot of elderly living on the island, as there are in many other places in Shetland.”

HIE’s Fiona Stirling said: “We have been working with the community association to support their plans to increase the population on the island. It was important that this work was carried out to identify economic and social development opportunities to secure the future of Fair Isle.”

The community is also being supported by Community Broadband Scotland (CBS), a Scottish government plan to help develop a community led project that will provide improved broadband to residents and businesses.

CBS director, Mark Tate, speaking from Fair Isle on Wednesday, said: “I have experienced first hand this week the frustrations caused by very slow internet speeds on the island. We are working with the resourceful community on the island, Shetland Island Council, Shetland Telecom and others to bring transformational broadband to the island. Delivering faster broadband to this iconic and beautiful island will have a transformational impact on the way people live, work and learn and support the islands ambitious development plan.”

Shetland MSP Tavish Scott said Fair Isle is a dynamic, welcoming and strong community and he backed the development plan.

“The first time I visited Fair Isle the mist rolled in and a day trip lasted a weekend. I had a great time with a community dance, a church service and great conversations with islanders on local and international events. Fair Isle is a wonderful place with a dynamic, welcoming and strong community. I have no doubt the island’s new development plan will succeed. There are so many positive reasons to live in Fair Isle and I am sure many people will embrace the potential of a life on the island.”


Add Your Comment
  • Allan Gray

    • June 29th, 2015 19:49

    Where do I sign up. would love the chance to go live on a place like that

  • robin galloway

    • June 30th, 2015 11:01

    And do what for a living? I have been and its a lovely island but its the back of the back of beyond to get to so workings out the question and don’t mention the winters…better off on Shetland or Orkney sorry to say, Nice to visit through.

  • Ramsay Duff

    • June 30th, 2015 11:56

    Im available, where do I apply?

  • Debra Totten

    • June 30th, 2015 13:32

    I am definitely interested in hearing details about the plan. Sounds like it will be a wonderful opportunity and adventure!

  • Audra Brookins

    • June 30th, 2015 17:02

    So where do I go to sign up and can we move tomorrow?

  • elizabeth mclean

    • June 30th, 2015 17:33

    exactly where do you look for more information to look into this? i see articles everywhere about this but nothing in any of them with a link to go for more info or to get on a list or something, anything, regarding this….?

  • Morag Hughson

    • June 30th, 2015 21:17

    Best thing they could do for such a community is get them on super-fast broadband. Then you can attract people who have small on-line businesses who don’t have to live anywhere specific. Same is true for the WHOLE of the rest of Shetland, i.e. not just the mainland. Get super-fast broadband to all the outlying communities and watch the hugely positive effect it has.

    • Johan Adamson

      • July 1st, 2015 9:08

      True, but you need good transport links too. And anyone needs to be really prepared, as in what they would be giving up, as well as what is on offer

  • David Spence

    • June 30th, 2015 22:34

    I may be wrong Morag, but the fiasco with the fibre-optic cable from Shetland to mainland Scotland resulted in Her Majesty’s Treasury wanting Shetland to pay £55,000 a year for a cable lying on the seabed. Quite rightly, Shetland businesses and the people said ‘ No, they were not going to pay such a ridiculous fee for a cable lying on the seabed between Shetland and mainland Scotland ‘. The present fibre-optic cable comes from the Faroes, I believe?

    Any way, my point, if you have not already guessed lol, being, how much would HMT want for a fibre-optic cable from Shetland to Fair Isle? Would the Fair Isle community be prepared to pay for this? I would hazard a guess HMT would be wanting £10,000 – £20,000 a year……….which is totally unjustified.

    Mind you, if Shetland was prepared to prove that the islands are not part of the UK, then maybe Denmark could offer a far cheaper, if at all (say from the Faroe’s as is present) annual fee? lol

  • jacqueline crewe

    • July 3rd, 2015 11:07

    Id love to live here ..question is..wheres the work????????? Id b there in a heartbeat!

  • Samantha Oakes

    • July 17th, 2015 9:38

    This sounds like an amazing opportunity for young families that like a challenge. My partner and I would love such a chance and have our own skills and trade to offer to such a community. How do we apply!?

  • Hansy Hand

    • July 18th, 2015 19:53

    Where do I find more information?

  • Moazzam Hussain

    • April 14th, 2016 19:33

    I currently work from home full time and live just outside of glasgow – i would love to live here but would need broadband for work purposes.

    I also consider myself an amateur carpenter and landscaper and my wife is an artist

    Where do i sign up:)

  • Mitch Roberts

    • April 14th, 2016 19:49

    More info please, definitely interested would love to live there, winters and all

  • Roy Rogers

    • April 14th, 2016 20:01

    I’m 55 yrs young my wife is a nurse or soon will be. I’m a air traffic assistant with a Met observers qualification 20 yrs plus experience in aviation
    Are we too old to apply ?

  • John Tulloch

    • April 15th, 2016 20:59

    As mentioned repeatedly during the debates over school closures, in particular, in the North Isles, this is what happens when rural locations suffer depopulation – you have to spend money to fortify the population with new people and of course, I welcome it wholeheartedly.

    However, the council has a fundamental duty to maintain and develop country communities for we shall all be the worse for it if they are allowed to atrophy and die.

    Let’s keep the country schools open and keep the communities viable.

    Let’s install fixed links and good broadband and watch them develop and grow.

  • Stewart Taylor

    • November 28th, 2016 20:00

    I am a professional male of 55yrs and had enough of the rat race spending significant times in traffic chaos and work related stress issues. I would love the opportunity to experience life on the Isle living off the fat of the land so to speak. I am a hard working individual who would relish the thought of helping out with the Islands tasks. I have excellent people skills and sure I could offer a service with a view to improving the future of the Island. I would however need other established Islanders to delegate me tasks for means of occupation. I look forward to hearing more about this fab life changing opportunity in moving to your lovely Isle.

  • Catherine Severin

    • July 25th, 2017 22:44

    I am a single, retired registered nurse and my significant other is employed in the area of cyber security. We love nature, bicycling, and gardening. And I knit!

    Is the community still looking for newcomers?


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