Scottish islands call for innovation zone
Scotland’s three island councils have put forward proposals to set up an island innovation zone
Scotland’s three island councils have put forward proposals to set up an island innovation zone for Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles.
The leaders of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, Orkney Islands Council and Shetland Islands Council are requesting new powers to encourage development and investment in the islands by offering incentives that would help offset the additional operating costs for companies of being based there.
The proposal was put to Derek Mackay, Minister for Transport and Islands, at a meeting of the Island Areas Ministerial Working Group, which includes the leaders and chief executives of the three local authorities and the Minister for Local Government and Community Empowerment, Marco Biagi.
Derek Mackay said: “As part of the Empowering Scotland’s Island Communities’ prospectus, we gave a clear commitment to consider any proposals brought forward by the island councils to establish island innovation zones which provide a clear focus on specific opportunities available to our island communities, and this remains the case today.
“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.”
Mackay has asked the councils to work with Highlands and Islands Enterprise to lay out in more detail the potential of the proposal, saying it was “crucial” to make a thorough assessment of the “genuine strengths and real potential” of such a zone.
Discussions at the meeting also highlighted the importance of the current Islands Bill consultation, launched at the end of September, which will run until 23 December.
The consultation is seeking views on a range of issues relating to the Scottish islands, including ‘island-proofing’ future policy decisions, the possibility of devolving additional powers to the islands, protection of constituency boundaries and the creation of a national islands plan.
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