Council Leaders welcome ‘Our Islands Our Future’ discussions

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Island Council Leaders have welcomed a commitment from Scottish Secretary of State Michael Moore to meet to discuss the joint initiative ‘Our Islands Our Future’ which seeks greater powers for Islands.

Mr Moore gave the commitment during a tour of the Outer Hebrides and Skye.

The meeting with the Leaders of Shetland Islands Council, Orkney Islands Council and Comhairle nan Eilean Siar is expected to be held within the next few weeks.

Councillor Angus Campbell, Leader of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar said; “We have been seeking to engage with both the Scottish and UK Governments and, following the Lerwick Declaration from the Scottish Government, this is now a welcome opportunity to discuss the future of island areas with the Secretary of State.

“We met with Mr Moore earlier this week and he was generally supportive of what the Islands are doing. I very much look forward to continuing those discussions in more detail.”

Orkney Island Council Convener, Councillor Steven Heddle, said: “The meeting with the Secretary of State will be a significant next step in our engagement with the UK Government. It will allow us to pose questions directly on aspects of our campaign which are not currently devolved to the Scottish Government.

It also gives us the opportunity to start to establish the UK Government’s commitment to the Islands both now, and in the future, if there is a No vote in the Scottish independence referendum.”

Leader of Shetland Islands Council, Gary Robinson, added: “I’m pleased to see that the Our Islands, Our Future campaign is now firmly on the radar of both the Scottish and Westminster governments ahead of our conference next month. We’ve made it clear that we wish to engage with all interested parties before the referendum next year so the Scottish Secretary’s offer to meet with us is very welcome.

“The last piece of the jig-saw will be to secure a commitment from the European Parliament to engage with us and I’m hopeful that we will make progress in that respect in the near future.”

Scotland’s three Island Councils launched ‘Our Islands Our Future’ in June.

The vision for the Islands is to fulfil potential in areas such as Control of Marine Resources, Renewable Energy Development, Public Sector Reform, Economic Wellbeing, Representation within Europe and European programmes, and Support for the distinctive culture of the Northern and Western Isles.

The Scottish Government is setting up a Ministerial Working Group to examine the issues and the inaugural meeting is expected to be held soon.

A two day conference on ‘Our Islands Our Future’ is to be held in Kirkwall on the 19th and 20th September.