Discussion of innovation zone for Scottish Islands

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Islands Minister Derek Mackay has heard about plans to establish an Island Innovation Zone for Orkney, Shetland and the Outer Hebrides.

As part of the 11th meeting of the Island Areas Ministerial Working Group, Island Council leaders presented proposals to establish a Innovation Zone with new powers to encourage development and investment opportunities by providing incentives to help offset the additional costs of operating from the islands.

The meeting was also provided an update on a study of the Economic Opportunities of Renewables Electricity for Island Communities.

The meeting chaired by Derek Mackay, included Leaders and Chief Executives of the three Island Councils and Minister for Local Government and Community Empowerment Marco Biagi.

Over the last year the Working Group has discussed issues covering the economic opportunities of renewable electricity for island communities and digital connectivity, to better island transport networks and powers over the Crown Estate.

Islands Minister Derek Mackay said:“Overall, I welcome the work done to date by the councils to identify specific sources of potential competitive advantage and jobs growth as well as the aim of a potential Innovation Zone.

“In determining the strategic imperatives of any zone, a thorough assessment of genuine strengths and real potential is crucial. I have, therefore, asked that the councils engage with Highlands and Islands Enterprise in order to set out in further detail the potential of any such zone.

“Discussions also highlighted the importance of the current islands consultation.

“This seeks views on a range of issues including the possibility of the devolution of additional powers, stronger representation and the creation of a National Islands Plan.

“The consultation will close on 23rd December and I would encourage everyone with an interest in our islands to have a look at the consultation, as it is an ideal opportunity to influence what a future Island Bill might look like.”