Catch up with news from S.I.F and the islands in our latest member bulletin – download here
National Islands Plan Consultation – launched and live:
Catch up with news from S.I.F and the islands in our latest member bulletin – download here
National Islands Plan Consultation – launched and live:
In many respects EU Policies have acted as a proxy for a UK regional policy.
Through the EU Territorial Cohesion Policy, European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) have been used to support economic development in Scotland both at regional and local level.
EU Regional Policy and funding have had a major impact in terms of reducing social and economic disparities. They have been a significant driver in transforming the economic and social wellbeing of the Highlands & Islands with £1.5 b invested up to now.
But after exiting the EU, UK regions including the Highlands and Islands will no longer be able to access the ESIF funds.
Post Brexit, the UK Government have announced that the so called Shared Prosperity Fund will replace ESIF funds. However, there is little clarity or detail supplied on the way the Shared prosperity fund will operate and on which the basis the funds will be distributed.
Estimates are that the Shared Prosperity Fund may only have 2% devoted to the rural economy, so the proportion of what will actually come to Scotland is still unknown.
The question is whether it can be shared equally and fairly if there are no regional policy at UK and Scottish Government level.
The policy paper by HIEP – Highland and Islands European Partnership- sets out a vision for a future regional policy for Scotland that would address these concerns:
By ensuring future regional policy is place based, there is a chance to:
Scottish Islands Federation
2018 AGM & Learning Exchange
What a rich and inspiring time we had in Tiree. Over the three days, thirty-two islanders representing twenty different islands came together to learn from each other and debate a wide range of topics including the Islands (Scotland) Act, Crown Estate, Brexit, Housing, Social Care, Marine Plastic, Tourism, Energy, Population & Demographics as well as a strategy session for S.I.F.
A very productive few days despite Storm Ali – and we would like to thank everyone that was able to attend, contribute and help out. We would also like to thank the Community Learning Exchange which made it possible for many of us to be there along with our funding contribution from the Scottish Government.
You can read the full report here and view some of the presentations and briefings below:
Keynote address by Michael Russell MSP
access the video link here
Following on from the Smart Islands Initiative, spearheaded by island local and regional authorities of the Members States signing the Smart Islands Declaration, momentum has been building up for national and European support for islands in Europe.
In the frame of the informal meeting of Energy ministers that took place in Valetta under the 2017 Maltese Presidency of the Council of the EU, Ministers of 14 Members States including from Greece, Malta, Cyprus, Italy, Croatia, Germany, France, Denmark, Sweden, Ireland, Spain, Portugal, Finland and Estonia signed together with the European Commission a political declaration to launch the new “Clean Energy for EU Islands” initiative.
Unfortunately the UK was not represented, although Scotland is very much at the forefront of the Renewable Energy revolution. However these policies have the support of the Scottish Government, and Scotland through S.I.F. and the Islands Councils in the CPMR are actively representing local and regional stakeholders.
The initiative builds on the Commission’s “Clean Energy for All Europeans” Communication of November 2016. The overall goal is for the EU to become a low carbon economy via transformation of its energy system by
To start the transition process in the EU, the Initiative aims at first accelerating the clean energy transition on EU islands, by helping them reduce their dependency on energy imports through enhanced exploitation of their own renewable energy sources and uptake of more modern and innovative energy systems.
Members States expressed their full support to the Initiative as a stable, long-term framework that will help support replicable and scalable projects through the provision of financing and technical capacity for islands.
To this end, they invited other countries to join and:
The island of Crete hosted the Inaugural Forum on the “Clean Energy for All European Islands” initiative, part of the Winter Package, that was tabled by the European Commission last November under the title “Clean Energy for All Europeans”.
The Forum was organized by the European Commission and the Greek government with over 200 participants and close to 40 speakers taking the floor, representing an overwhelming endorsement by political representatives of national, regional and local level as well as industry and civil society stakeholders. Community Energy Scotland was invited to present the access project in Mull and other pioneering Scottish projects.
The islands are now widely recognised as platforms for pilot initiatives and showcases for success stories. Islands are:
The next measures are a Clean Energy Package to create the right legal framework (RES, consumers and stability for investment and a two directional approach for facilitation of transition and “island-frontrunners”: top-down and bottom up, as well as cooperation with national/regional organisations of islands
The EU commission has an ambitious objective: 1000 EU islands decarbonised by 2030!
The call for a Clean Energy EU island secretariat is a first step to ensure that islands can become platforms for pilot initiatives on clean energy transition and showcase success stories of islands’ transition at international level. The next step is to set up an Island Facility under Horizon 2020 to support the comprehensive energy transition in preparatory and implementation phase.
Based in Brussels but reaching out to the islands, the Secretariat’s aim is to carry out a benchmarking study on energy systems on islands and to assist the islands to design and prepare decarbonisation plans by providing dedicated capacity building, technical assistance and advisory services.
Formally introduced on 9 June 2017, the Bill is for an Act of the Scottish Parliament to make provision for a national islands plan; to impose duties in relation to island communities on certain public authorities; to make provision about the electoral representation of island communities; and to establish a licensing scheme in respect of marine development adjacent to islands.
Stage 1 of the process has included a call for evidence from the Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee. Written evidence was submitted by a range of groups and individuals including SIF and you can see our submission here – thank you to everyone that contributed.
Our SIF Chair, Camille, was invited to take part in an evidence session with the Committee – you can watch it here.
The Committee also went out and about around the islands to hold direct discussion with islanders and you can read the feedback here.
The Scottish Islands Federation will be hosting the European Small Islands Federation AGM and annual Conference in partnership with the Orkney International Science Festival from 11 to 13 September 2017.
The event will include a study visit featuring the culture and archeology of the Orkney with a discussion on island product branding on Monday 11, a study visit to Shapinsay on Tuesday 12 with a smaller group heading to North Ronaldsay, and 3 presentations on the theme of greening the islands as part of the Orkney International Science Festival on Wednesday 13 September. Of particular importance to the Scottish Islands will be the last session, featuring Brendan Devlin, special advisor to DG Energy, who will present the Clean Energy EU Islands strategy agreed on in Malta last May. Kostas Komninos from Greece, Elvira Laneborg from Sweden and Mark Hull from Scotland will also present initiatives showing how European islands ‘ smart approach to Energy from transport to renewables production places them as leaders in sustainable development.
Ireland, France, Sweden, Estonia, Finland and Sweden islands will be represented at the event, with delegates from Eigg, Cumbrae, Luing, Bute, Mull, Barra, Fetlar and several Orkney island Development trusts attending as well.
You can see the full programme here.
An important part of the S.I.F. AGM will be for the delegates to look over the S.I.F. draft response, add to it if necessary and approve it for submission to the Scottish Government in time for the 25 September deadline.
The S.I.F. AGM will take place at 18.45 at the Kirkwall Hotel, Harbour St, Kirkwall, KW15 1LE
With 2 board members standing down , but up for re-election, S.I.F. is looking for up to 4 more directors to take the organisation forward. Help us make the island voice even stronger!
This was the strong message delivered by CPMR President Vasco Cordeiro (and President of Azores Government) on 9 March 2017. He also said: “we must speak very clearly and very loudly about the islands’ needs.”
The CPMR Island Commission’s AGM 2017 was hosted on Gozo, Malta’s smaller island, and brought together island regions from the North to the South of Europe to look at the future of Cohesion Policy post-2020.
As an observer member, the European Small Islands Federation, represented by its chair, Camille Dressler, also chair of the Scottish Islands Federation, was extremely pleased to see some very strong principles being reiterated by the minister for Gozo in particular
The future of the EU and the islands
Eleni Marianou, the CPMR islands Commission secretary, was very clear on what had to be done in response to Mr Juncker’s White paper:
The presentation by Ioannis Spillanis from the University of Aegean Island and Local development laboratory made the following points:
INSULEUR president Georgios Benetos showed how islands are left behind from the business point of view:
Fundamental changes in the way the EU could support the islands:
MEP Myriam Dalli who is involved in supporting Blue Growth projects, agreed that islands do need support, and the way to get it was to demonstrate a Can Do approach.
The presentation by the Western Isles Council showed how the islands could become Energy Positive Islands by investing in their potential for renewables. Bornholm ‘s vice mayor presented the island Bright Green Future. Kostas Komninos built on that concept by presenting the Smart Island Initiative to be launched in Brussels on 28 March.
Gilles Simeoni, President of the Executive Council of Corsica, was unanimously elected as President of the CPMR Islands Commission (CPMR-IC).
Following his election, President Simeoni said: “The months and years to come will be decisive not only for our islands but also for Europe, in the context of a very marked internal and international crisis”.
He identified the need to put islands at the heart of Cohesion Policy and suggested that an insularity clause should appear in transport, tax policies, waste management and energy.
From a purely Scottish Point of view, it was gratifying to discuss with Mr Simeoni how the Corsican team had come to Scotland to meet with Cal Mac to look at the way they are structured and with a view to replicate the C-Mal and Cal Mac model!
The CPMR Islands Commission, which represents all of Europe’s island regions, has reiterated that islands and outermost regions are unique because of their remoteness.
The Islands Commission has called for the termination of the traditional perception that islands are too different from one another to justify policy measures at EU level.
While debate on post-2020 policies is emerging, island regions across Europe have called for the EU to develop a strong post-2020 Cohesion Policy with a robust territorial dimension which would earmark specific funding to assist island and outermost regions reach the EU objectives.
The CPMR-IC would welcome a constructive dialogue with the European Commission in 2017 ahead of the legislative proposals for post-2020 Cohesion Policy.
Furthermore, it has urged the European Institutions to correct the glaring exclusion of islands from the legal recognition of different territorial typologies that is currently being debated.
Click here to access the speeches and presentations made at the Gozo 2017 AGM.
As Europe moves towards the implementation of its 2030 climate and energy agenda and the broader Energy Union objectives, the European electricity sector fully recognises that islands will play an important role in ensuring their success. In this context EURELECTRIC organised a Workshop entitled “Islands: Part of the Solution to the 2030 Climate and Energy Challenges” in Brussels on 20 February 2017.
During the workshop, EURELECTRIC launched a report entitled “Towards an Energy Transition on Europe’s Islands” which highlights the energy situation of European islands. The report is an attempt to synthesise some of the flagship projects pioneered on several islands and showcasing sustainable solutions to the challenge of advancing energy transition efforts on islands. It also proposes how the positive experience from these projects and more systematised effort towards similar projects could be further streamlined to address the unique challenges faced by islands’ energy systems.
The focus of the workshop would be to present some of these success stories but also engage relevant stakeholders in a debate over how to take forward the positive but isolated impact of these projects in a more coordinated manner. In the age of rapid energy system decentralisation, renewables deployment, system smartification and digitalisation, solutions offering answers to challenges on islands are of value to decentralisation issues faced on the mainland as well. The workshop is a first step towards identifying areas requiring further European action as well as opportunities to islands as test-beds to technologies and services, which may prove key to unlocking energy challenges on the mainland.
Check Euroelectric for upcoming events!
On 26 October, Roseanna Cunningham, Scotland’s Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform, announced the designation of the Fair Isle Demonstration & Research Marine Protected Area – Scotland’s first ever designation of this kind.
The news comes on the back of decades of community effort campaigning for improved protection for Fair Isle’s waters. Fair Isle is famed for its migratory bird populations and attracts visitors the world over. A small and remote island, located around 40km from the nearest land, the local economy is reliant upon a healthy marine environment to underpin their wildlife tourism industry. Fair Isle records a greater diversity of bird species per unit area than anywhere else in Britain and Ireland, due to its location as first landfall for migrants moving across both the North Sea and Atlantic Ocean, and often records unusual avian visitors not found elsewhere in the UK. In addition, seventeen species of seabirds breed on Fair Isle, however populations of these have declined from c. 250,000 in total in the 1980s and 1990s to just over 100,000 in 2010, with species such as kittiwakes, arctic skuas, puffins, shags and arctic terns showing the most rapid declines. This is not only an issue for the biodiversity of Fair Isle, but also represents a threat to the island’s main industry – wildlife-based tourism.
The Fair Isle Marine Environment and Tourism Initiative (FIMETI) was established in 1995 as a partnership between the Fair Isle community, the National Trust for Scotland and the Fair Isle Bird Observatory Trust to work toward the long-term protection and sustainable management of the seas around the island. The proposal for the Demonstration and Research Marine Protected Area (MPA) was developed in 2011 by FIMETI on behalf of all residents of Fair Isle, and had full support of other stakeholders using these waters.
The Fair Isle MPA is ultimately designed to protect the island’s sea bird populations (and associated bird tourism industry) and has two objectives:
It differs from Scotland’s nature conservation MPAs in that rather than specifically protecting species of European importance it is specifically targeted toward carrying out research to demonstrate sustainable marine management approaches.
Speaking about the news, former FIMETI representative Nick Riddiford said, “I am delighted that 25 years of community effort to safeguard our seas has reached this milestone. Its goal as the first Demonstration and Research MPA in Scotland is to pilot a partnership approach towards sustainable marine management of benefit to all.”
“The sea plays a huge role in the economic, social, cultural and environmental wellbeing of the isle. The designation will make a big difference for Fair Isle.”
Last year (30.09.15), Dr Ian Duncan, Conservative MEP for Scotland, and chair of the ECR, welcomed small businessmen from across Europe to the European Parliament to discuss the challenges facing Islands and peripheral communities.
Speaking from the European Parliament in Brussels, Dr Duncan said
‘When I campaigned to be elected to the European Parliament I was struck by the challenges facing Island communities right across Scotland. The small businesses based on these Islands produce goods and services of incredibly high quality, but encounter barriers such as distance from market, transport challenges, intermittent Internet, and attracting and retaining staff. We heard today from speakers from Scotland, Denmark, Croatia and Finland, all of whom face common challenges.
‘The key message is that the Single Market must work for you regardless of where you live and work. If you are in Stornoway, or Stirling, Arran or Aberdeen you should be able to do business. The islands don’t need special treatment, they need equal treatment. So when we talk about a Digital Single Market it should be a market for every islander as well as every mainlander. The same when we talk about an Energy Union; it should connect every household, not just those in the middle. And of course, you should be able to access the single market without let or hindrance, regardless of whether you are selling whisky on Islay or gin in Edinburgh.
‘I am delighted to have been able to bring together experts from across Europe and look forward to publishing a report of our findings in due course.’
The group heard from speakers including Gerald Michaluk, the owner of the Arran Brewery, and Donald MacInnes, crofter and former Chief Executive of Scotland Europa.
Gerald Michaluk commented,
‘As one of our potentially biggest trading partners Europe is essential, and if Scotland wants to maintain jobs and vitality on its Islands it needs to support Dr Ian Duncan’s initiative.
‘Islands need to have full access to Europe and be able to operate on a level playing field with mainland locations. Only in this way can we sustain the beauty and natural environment of Island communities across the EU.’
Donald MacInnes commented:
‘Islanders don’t feel remote. For the single market to work for everyone, disparities between peripheral regions/islands must be minimised. Equally important is to focus on eliminating differences within these regions and islands. An understanding of this fine grain is crucial in seeking strategies and solutions.’
Jamie McGrigor, Conservative MSP for the Highlands and Islands added:
‘As someone who lives in and has represented remote and island communities in the Scottish Parliament for many years, I know the unique challenges they face. Geography, transportation and logistical challenges often mean it is particularly difficult to do business in remote communities such as those up and down the west coast of Scotland.
“However, their produce, skills and expertise are often second to none, and I am delighted that my colleague Ian Duncan MEP is raising this issue in the European Parliament.”
Currently there are no new post from Dr Duncan’s blog on the need for the islands to engage with the single market.
Is he towing the party line on a hard Brexit, or he is standing by his word on the Single Market s advantage for the island?
If you are concerned about this issue, contact Andrew Johnston, Head of Office for Ian Duncan, Ian Duncan MEP as he stated his position as always putting Scotland’s interests’ first and the current discussion does not look as if Scotland’s interests – and never mind the islands – are being fully considered in the discussion.