Catch up with news from SIF and the islands in our latest member bulletin- download here.
Catch up with news from SIF and the islands in our latest member bulletin- download here.
Islands (Scotland) Bill – call for evidence
Draft 31 August 2017
We believe that the duty to publish a national islands plan will be a positive milestone. The commitment to ensuring that the progress of the plan is monitored on an annual basis should increase responsibility and transparency, sustain momentum and provide assurance that the unique situation of islands maintains a high profile.
The National Islands Plan will set out the main objectives and strategy in relation to improving outcomes for island communities:
We very much welcome the commitment to the principle of island-proofing as a duty to have regard to island communities. We feel it should be a legal duty and mandatory throughout government. Such a duty should encompass the principles articulated in Articles 170 and 174 of the Lisbon Treaty, which acknowledge the permanent geographical constraints of island territories and their difficulties in accessing the market.
The Islands Bill is the perfect opportunity to address problems by allowing greater flexibility to meet specific island needs but how it should work in practice is difficult to visualise without examples.
Points we consider important include:
We agree that the current system is unfair – for instance, Cumbrae and Arran are not represented by their own member because there is a perception that their combined population is too small. We therefore agree that there should be the flexibility to have 1 or 2 member wards.
However the challenge of finding a representative and meeting the administrative requirements for islands with a small population that struggle with representation – should not be overlooked in the planning of mechanisms and resources needed to deliver.
We do agree with the power and feel that island councils should have more power and influence over and benefit from marine development as should island communities themselves and we would therefore welcome a real commitment to subsidiarity.
There should be provision to enable the revenue from Crown Estate marine assets to be invested in the islands – island communities depend on the surrounding shore and sea for many needs, yet currently they have no influence over development and have to pay the Crown to be able to use their own asset.
We believe aquaculture should be included. While valuable jobs can be created, the impact should also be considered via island-proofing.
The regulation should be more flexible to enable influence over decisions outwith 12 nautical miles where there is shore-based activity and therefore an impact on the islands.
It is not quite clear how the Bill will actually address the challenges, realise the potential and empower island communities. How will it support sustainable, permanent communities on inhabited islands?
The Plan sets the vision and the impact assessments will consider the effect on islands. Will it be backed by investment and action that will tackle the big issues such as fuel poverty, cost of living, health provision, service retention, lack of housing for young people, population decline, connectivity? What will actually be done to create the level playing field and parity that is needed for islands to flourish?
While the challenges of island life are recognised, there is often a presumption held that islanders should just get on with it as it is their own choice to live on an island. People living on the islands accept that there will never be the number or choice of things available to them as in an urban area but strongly believe that they should expect an equal level of service for the essential things in life such as medical treatment, education, power, fuel, waste, connectivity and that the over-cost of island life due to transport should never be underestimated and always be taken into account.
1/ Thomas Fisher, Young Start Project Leader
Mentor Uist and Barra — supporting young people aged 16 to 24
Cothrom Ltd, 01878 700918 (direct) or 700910
There is little I would disagree with in your draft response to the Islands Bill.
My first main point relates to an overall framework of thinking about our islands. Yes, the bill has been introduced to address the huge challenges of island life. Just as important is to recognise the huge assets that islands have (land, community, people, enterprise, social enterprises stronger on the islands than on the mainland, etc.). I would prefer a response that began with these assets, and then said that the bill needs to be about releasing the potential of these assets. At one point you clearly do this:
“There should be provision to enable the revenue from Crown Estate marine assets to be invested in the islands – island communities depend on the surrounding shore and sea for many needs, yet currently they have no influence over development and have to pay the Crown to be able to use their own asset“.
We have to pay to use our own assets, rather than being able to use them ourselves for our own economic and community benefit! This is surely the next step for community ownership of land.
So, much of island proofing is actually about releasing the constraints that hold back our islands: the crown estate; the electricity charging framework that prices electricity according to distance from urban centre and thus makes the abundant renewable energy assets uneconomic; the lack of connectivity, preventing people running internet based businesses from choosing to settle on wonderful islands with all their potential (as a related example, look at how our North Uist medical practice is advertising for GPs: http://ruralgp.com/2017/08/vacancy-north-uist-scottish-hebrides-gp/).
My second main point is to reinforce the democratic deficit. Island communities have shown beyond any doubt that they are very capable of governing themselves (more than two thirds of people in the Outer Hebrides living on community owned land, Eigg, Gigha, Westray, etc.) We need more control and influence on anything that affects our island life. There should be a presumption in the bill that any new policies should increase our control and influence.
Here are a few additional comments:
Yes, the bill should include a focus on utilities and other commercial bodies. These have such a huge influence on island economies (e.g. fuel costs, renewables, broadband, etc.). Island proofing, for example, would not allow OFGEM’s current pricing regime for electricity generation (I realise that OFGEM is British wide, but it is a striking example).
I would also like to see organisations, not just BT and others, but including charities and social enterprises, that take government funding to deliver a Scottish wide service demonstrate how they are doing this. The number of websites of such organisations I have been to that claim they serve all of Scotland, but when you call them up, they say delivering the service, or even coming to visit the islands, is too expensive. On their side, the Scottish government would have to recognise that additional costs to make the service available to remote islands are legitimate, and must not disadvantage bids in competitive tendering.
Recognising the additional costs of delivering services to remote islands with highly dispersed populations is of course essential for all services, public, private and third sector.
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!
No we haven’t, says S.I.F. Chair Camille Dressler, and there has been so far no evidence that any thought has been devoted to that part of EU policy which has been fundamental in ensuring island sustainable development throughout the EU. Are there any thought of developing an equivalent Policy? What happens to Article 174 of th Lisbon Treaty which underpins much of the principles that have informed the Cohesion Policy? Is that going to be repatriated? We fear it won’t as the UK government paid precious little attention to it when it was an integral part of the EU!
Post 2020 Cohesion Policy has been the subject of much discussion in the past few months at many different levels. Yet, unsurprisingly, there has been little about it in the media. So with this concern in mind, these are the questions we asked MPs Ian Blackford and Stephen Gethins, and now they want to discuss this further!
In the context of the UK Brexit negociations, the Scottish Islands Federation is extremely concerned that the Joint Ministerial Committee approach agreed on by the UK Government has thus far produced no tangible results with regards to the differentiated solution proposed by the Scottish Government, which would have secured access to the Single Market for Scotland’s islands.
Scottish Islands Federation’s members have expressed dismay and worry regarding the move away from the EU Cohesion Policy with its associated structural funds and the CAP for the islands.
We would therefore like to stress how important the EU Cohesion Policy has been for the islands. Its stated aim being to improve the economic well-being of regions in the EU and also to moderate regional disparities, it has been geared towards making regions more competitive, fostering economic growth and creating new jobs. It also has had an important role to play addressing important wider challenges such as climate change, sustainable energy supply and globalisation.
More than one third of the EU budget is currently devoted to this policy, which aims to remove economic, social and territorial disparities across the EU. Crucially, through Article 174 of the Lisbon Treaty, the policy recognizes inherent and permanent geographical challenges faced by islands.
With a GDP of 75 to 90% of the EU average, the Highlands and Islands have had ‘transitional region’ status. This has enabled the area to benefit from a whole suite of European funds targeted at social and community projects, infrastructure, businesses, partnerships and future proofing measures, including investment in renewable energy projects.
This spring, both the Committee of the Regions and the European Economic and Social Committee have published recommendations on the issues of island entrepreneurship and the situation of islands in the current and future EU regional policy post-2020.
Islands should be a particular focus of post-2020 cohesion policy, by adding islands as an additional category in the EU Regulation on territorial typologies
Set up a one-stop shop for the islands (“Island Desk”) within the DG REGIO at the European Commission
Establish a system of operating assistance for island businesses to offset higher transport costs, by updating guidelines on regional aid and the GBER
Set up a programme to stimulate innovation processes in island economies, make use of local resources, provide support for the use of renewable energies, handle waste, manage water, promote cultural and natural heritage, and establish a circular economy
All island regions and island Member States to be considered as less developed regions in post-2020 cohesion policy
Include insularity clauses in all key EU legislation, to take specific island circumstances into account
Last May, the EU commission issued the Clean Energy EU islands declaration informed by the European Parliament’s resolution on the special situation of islands (2015/3014(RSP) stressing the European islands’ potential to contribute to strengthening sustainable development in the Union, which will promote and support tailor-made clean energy transitions for islands.
We are therefore very clear about what the islands of Scotland will miss out on through Brexit.
In this context, we are seeking assurances and clarifications as to how the transition from EU funding to UK funding will be managed to safeguard the fragile economies of the islands and avoid real risks of depopulation, and what measures is the UK government prepared to take to mitigate the loss of opportunities currently being developed within the EU for the islands.
The response by Mr Davis to the differentiated solution proposed by the UK government leads to us to fear that such fundamental aspects of structural development policy, as represented by the EU territorial Cohesion Policy, are being ignored or side-lined through their rejection of Scotland’s proposed access to the Single Market.
This gives the Scottish Islands little confidence in the UK Government’s understanding of issues concerning the islands’ economic survival once EU funding will cease.
We would like in particular to seek clarity on if and how the recognition of the islands’ peripheral and fragile status by the Lisbon Treaty will be translated into UK law post-Brexit.
We seek your response as to the following questions which we submit are fundamental to the continual growth and development of our island region post-Brexit:
We look forward to receiving your response on how you as an MP will seek to mitigate the effects of a move away from the EU Territorial Cohesion policy. This would have the potential to starve the islands of crucial economic and social support, jeopardize their fragile and precious environment and hamper their development and aspirations for decades to come.
Furthermore, we welcome any queries or discussions you may wish to undertake with us to ensure the success of future policies, which will directly affect the Scottish island regions as well as other islands in the UK.
Danish Island food producer Laurids Sig Christensen thinks that island produce need to be have their own internationally recognised brand:”Island Specialties® ”
Islands often have unique natural conditions of food production and these conditions potentially result in unique products and unique qualities in products. Therefore, food producers on small islands have unique conditions to comply with the terroir concept and unique conditions to contribute to diversification in food qualities and methods of food production adapted to the nature of these locations.
Island communities generally have strong identity, and they have a strong appeal to the outside world in many – if not all countries. The reason why a terroir brand was developed in Denmark and the perspective of developing it into an internationally recognized brand was about developing collective impact in marketing. See how the Danes did it here.
A large number of island brands already exists, some of which are very strong. Developing collective impact in marketing is not an alternative to these marketing platforms – the perspective is to develop synergy between island brands already existing. To develop collective impact in marketing of products from small island communities requires that there is a general understanding and acceptance of the value of doing so.
“First of all, it would be good to discuss and ultimately develop definitions of what a small island is in a European context’ proposes Laurids. ” What is the size limits of a small island and what is the size limits of small island communities? It might be difficult to reach a consensus for all countries in Europe but if we could reach common definitions for a substantial number of countries it would still be worth the effort!”
The next step might be to discuss perspectives and interest in concerted marketing efforts, i.e. presentation on international food exhibitions, targeting specific markets such as Japan and the USA.
Small island food producers in Denmark did go to Japan, and the interest in Japan was extraordinary. However, more strength is needed to penetrate and actually get our products on the Japanese market.
Together we can do it better than individually!
Laurids wants to hear from you. You can contact him through us at email@example.com
“ The things we stand to lose though leaving the EU membership and the Single Market are all things that we value and we do not want to lose them, so we will look very carefully at all the options presented in order to keep as many of the benefits of EU membership as we can.”
This was the general response to our questions last January.
Article 50 has been triggered and the UK Government is still ignoring the statements in the Scottish Government’s paper three months after its publication.
Michael Russell’s demand to have Scotland’s proposals for a differentiated solution included in the letter sent to Donald Tusk was equally ignored.
The report by the Commons Committee on Exiting the EU concluded that the Prime Minister will attempt to use Brexit to rewrite the devolution settlement and reserve the power to legislate in future on Scottish agriculture payments, fisheries quota and renewable energy targets.
The Scottish Government’s responses to the S.I.F. ‘s questions are therefore now rendered utterly meaningless.
The Commons Committee on Exiting the EU recommended that the views of the Weslh, Scottish and Norther Irish Legislatures regarding their option papers should be considered as a matter of urgency.
Considering that the White Paper for the Great Repeal Bill wants to bring back all the powers vested in the EU to Westminster, to ensure the effective functioning of the UK Single market, its effect will be to breach the founding principles of devolution of the 1998 Scotland Act.
It thus looks increasingly unlikely that the devolved legislatures’ views will be considered to the extent wished by the Scottish Government in any case.
The Scottish government will be unlikely to be in a position to negociate or protect the islands’ interests as it stated it would.
It is very hard to see how the Scottish Government will now be able to negotiate with the UK Government to ensure that future financial support for initiatives that currently receive European funds is allocated on a fair and equitable basis across the UK. Looking for more devolved powers to come to Scotland is going to be very difficult if not impossible.
S.I.F.’ will continue their dialogue with Michael Russell MSP and his team as the Brexit negotiations unfold.
But since it is very unlikely that the UK government will change its position, it does increasingly appear that the only way forward to safeguard the islands’ economy and realise their renewable energy potential is to pursue independence and stay withing the EU.
FREE training in coaching led by international coaching practitioner Chris Pienaar
April 25th and 26th,
10 to 4:30 @ Cothrom,
Ormicleit, South Uist
To book your place, contact: 01878 700910 firstname.lastname@example.org
Following on from our work in Project SMILEGOV, the Smart Island Initiative brought together the aspirations of EU islands, small and large to decarbonise their economies and lead in the field of renewable technologies as well as sustainable economic development.
On 28 March 2017, The “Smart Islands Event: Creating New Pathways for EU islands” gathered in Brussels over 100 European island representatives, stakeholders and policy-makers to officially present Smart Islands Initiative, one that sheds light on the potential of islands to emerge as ideal territories for the deployment of innovative technologies in the fields of energy, transport & mobility, water & waste management and ICT.
The event was co-hosted and warmly supported by a group of 11 MEPs from Member States with islands, led by MEP Eva Kaili. Mrs Kaili also expressed her intention to table, in the coming months, a Motion for Resolution so that the Smart Islands Declaration is formally endorsed by the European Parliament.
The Smart Islands Initiative is supported in Scotland by the Scottish Islands Federation, Shetland Islands Council, Highland Council Argyll and Bute Council and North Ayrshire Council. During the event 36 island representatives from Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Ireland, Malta, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, the Netherlands and the UK ( Scotland as well as the Scilly isles) signed the Smart Islands Declaration, cornerstone document of the Smart Islands Initiative at the EU parliament on 28 March 2017.
Two round-tables discussions, composed of experts from the European Commission, The European Investment Bank, EESC – European Economic and Social Committee, European Committee of the Regions, CPMR – Conference of peripheral maritime regions, Fedarene, Tipperary Energy Agency, Eurelectric, @HEDNO – Hellenic Electricity Distribution Network Operator, Instituto Tecnológico de Canarias, S.A., Samsø Energiakademi, Lloyd’s Register, and 2017 Maltese Presidency of the Council of the EU provided useful insights on islands’ intrinsic characteristics, as much as on the smart technologies, financing instruments and policies available which, if properly combined, can boost local sustainable development on islands.
In the first round-table, distinguished speakers shared their thoughts and experiences regarding the different smart technologies that are available and the processes that need to be in place to help lands transition in a sustainable and innovative era!
The second round table discussed the necessary interventions at regulatory level but also the governance schemes and financial tools that need to be activated helping islands unleash their potential to develop in a sustainable and inclusive way.
Revealing of the on-going work to bring islands on top of the EU policy agenda was the reference by Clive Gerada, Chair of the Energy Working Party of the 2017 Maltese Presidency of the Council of the EU, on the Political Declaration on Islands to be signed during the Informal Meeting of Energy Ministers on 18 May in Valetta.
The concluding remarks before the signing ceremony were made by European Commission Director-General for Energy Dominique Ristori who praised the Smart Islands Initiative as a truly meaningful vehicle helping islands become pioneers of the clean energy transition!
Mr Ristori pointed to the immense potential of islands to host innovative projects that can have a positive impact on local economies, all while helping Europe meet the goals it has set in a number of key policy areas, including climate, energy, transport and mobility both at home and globally COP21.
The Smart Islands Event marks an important milestone on islands’ pathway to becoming smart, inclusive and thriving societies, contributing to an innovative and sustainable Europe.
For more information, please visit www.smartislandsinitiative.eu
The Smart Islands Initiative advocates for a holistic development approach one that “derives from insularity, the condition that forces island authorities to focus on how to ensure the optimal use and management of their resources and infrastructures, very often within island boundaries, in order to support sustainable and equitable economic development that fully taps into islands’ local potential (geography, natural and human resources, products)”
#NEWS 2: The highlight of the Smart Island Declaration event on the 28 March in Brussels is that we expect European Commissioner for Climate and Energy Miguel Arias Cañete to open the Smart Islands Declaration and address the signing ceremony!
#VERY IMPORTANT . We now have 200 organisations and Local authorities throughout the EU who have signed up to the Initiative and plan to attend the Brussels event. This is good news as the European Commission is promoting a programme for sustainable energy on islands to be announced by the end of 2017. This means funds for islands!!!
In this context, the Commission sees the Smart Island Initiative in a very positive way because this is 1) European and 2) bottom-up. 1+2 are key ingredients for the Commission programme to be successful. The synergies are there, waiting to be exploited!
#SMART ISLAND INITIATIVE SCOTLAND. Most Local Authorities with islands responsibilities have signed up to the initiative: Highland, Argyll and Bute, North Ayrshire have send letters of support with Shetland Islands Council leading the way by signing the Declaration itself! Island Development trusts that have benefited from European funding for their renewable energy scheme like the Isle of Eigg Heritage Trust have also send letters of support. Likewise, Renewable Energy Academic bodies Strathclyde University and NGOs like Community Energy Scotland have also given their support alongside the Scottish Islands Federation and the European Islands Federation (ESIN) .
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.