Shetland is poised to benefit from a share of £100 million as part of the long-anticipated “transformational” Islands Deal – a move which has been welcomed by political representatives.
The isles will gain a slice of a £50 million boost from the Scottish government, which will be invested over 10 years to support local economic recovery and growth.
Another £50 million is also coming from the UK government over a 15 year timeframe.
The Scottish government says range of areas, including tourism, infrastructure, innovation, energy transition and skills, will be targeted with the funding.
It comes at a crucial time for Shetland’s economy, which is already suffering the impact of the coronavirus crisis.
Orkney and the Western Isles are also benefiting from the deal.
Scottish government Transport secretary Michael Matheson said the growth deal “marks our commitment to invest across all of Scotland”.
He added: “This significant investment will support islanders’ ambitions to create world-class visitor destinations, lead the way to a low carbon future, support growth and future industries and help the communities thrive by attracting and retaining young talent, driving inclusive and sustainable economic growth and delivering long lasting benefits for people living across the three island authority areas.
“It is important that all deals take account of the unprecedented economic challenges created by coronavirus and we are working with partners, to understand how best to move forward and respond to current circumstances.”
Northern Isles representatives, Alistair Carmichael MP, Beatrice Wishart MSP and Liam McArthur MSP, have today welcomed the announcement of a £100m funding agreement for the Islands Growth Deal, covering both the Northern Isles and the Western Isles and funded equally between the UK and Scottish governments.
The deal represents an award of almost three-times the per capita figure based on other Scottish growth deals. Discussions will now continue towards agreeing a Heads of Terms later this year, along with more detail on the transformational projects which will be funded.
Isles MP Alistair Carmichael said he was glad the deal had finally been settled.
“Many times in recent years I have discussed with the Scottish Secretary and Treasury ministers the importance of a package for the isles that was something more than a crude per head calculation.
“Having now secured a deal that it approximately three times the regular rate per head of population I am delighted that this message has got through. Particular congratulations should go to the councillors and officials who have worked long and hard on this. It is a testament to their efforts that we have such a robust deal today.
“The impact of the pandemic reminds us that this is no time to be complacent. We have an excellent opportunity now to leverage this deal as part of a wider renewal of development and growth in the isles. This is not the end but the beginning of our efforts.”
His Holyrood counterpart Beatrice Wishart said the announcement was “welcome news”.
“This Islands Deal has the potential to be transformational for our island communities. I look forward to speedy progress to make exciting opportunities a reality. The deal was needed long before Covid-19 struck to ensure sustainability of our island groups and so they can thrive well into the future.”