S.I.F. awarded Scottish Government funding

S.I.F. awarded Scottish Government funding!

The Scottish Islands Federation has been awarded £18.500  by the Scottish government, a sum which will allow its voluntary board to employ the staff it requires to fulfil its ambitious targets.

Federation chair Camille Dressler said: “we warmly thank the Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs, Food and Environment, Richard Lochhead MSP, for his recognition of the part that the Scottish Islands Federation has played in helping to raise islands needs and issues at all levels of governance. We are now looking forward to promote a greater engagement of island grassroots organisations in all the issues that are important to them, and help and help them make their islands leaders in low carbon, sustainable communities.”

Michael Russell , MSP for Argyll & Bute which has more inhabited islands than any other Scottish constituency, and invited the Scottish Islands Federation to the Scottish Parliament in 2013,  said : ‘ I am delighted that the Scottish Government has recognised the importance of the Scottish Islands Federation and the work that is done to bring together those who live and work on the islands in order to share experiences and find ways of moving forward.   The links that exist with islands in other parts of Europe are also important and the collaborations on energy, employment, tourism and other issues that are already arising are pointing interesting ways forward,.   The Scottish Government knows that islands need special support and this grant is not only proves that point, but also opens the door to new possibilities.”

The Scottish Islands Federation is now recruiting staff to carry out the tasks agreed with the Rural Communities team. A description of the job and its responsibilities can be found here.

 

EU resolution on islands signals positive change

NEW EU resolution on islands passed on 4 February 2016

Article 174 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) recognises the special nature of island territories. However, very few concrete EU measures have aimed to support islands to date. Several insular regions and municipalities call for the development of an ‘insular dimension’ in EU policies, and for EU regional policy to take insularity factors, that affect them disproportionately, into account. They also claim that due to the European Commission’s established method of regional funding – based on GDP – certain islands and insular territories are severely penalised.

The Scottish Islands Federation hopes this may change if the measures proposed by the new resolution on islands  (see  below) are implemented:   the resolution calls  for new statistical indicators besides GDP  that can reflect the economic and social vulnerability arising from being an island territory.  An island desk, special financial instruments aimed at islands, an agenda for the islands, a White paper to monitor the situation,  a European Year for Islands and Mountains are amongst other welcome proposals to ensure that the island situation is considered as it should.

However, such resolutions have to be supported by all EU member states. Therein lie the problem of the Scottish Islands: the UK government cares little for its island territories and will care even less if voters decide to leave the EU.

European Parliament resolution of 4 February 2016 on the special situation of islands (2015/3014(RSP))

The European Parliament,

  • –  having regard to Articles 174 and 175 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU),
  • –  having regard to Regulation (EU) No 1301/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 December 2013, on the European Regional Development Fund and on specific provisions concerning the Investment for growth and jobs goal and repealing Regulation (EC) No 1080/2006,
  • –  having regard to Regulation (EU) No 1303/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 December 2013 laying down common provisions on the European Regional Development Fund, the European Social Fund, the Cohesion Fund, the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund and laying down general provisions on the European Regional Development Fund, the European Social Fund, the Cohesion Fund and the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund and repealing Council Regulation (EC) No 1083/2006,
  • –  having regard to Regulation (EU) No 1305/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 December 2013 on support for rural development by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) and repealing Council Regulation (EC) No 1698/2005,
  • –  having regard to the Commission’s Sixth Report on Economic, Social and Territorial Cohesion (COM(2014)0473),
  • –  having regard to the European Economic and Social Committee’s opinion on ‘Specific problems facing islands’ (1229/2011),
  • –  having regard to the question to the Commission on the insularity condition (O-000013/2016 – B8-0106/2016),
  • –  having regard to Rules 128(5) and 123(2) of its Rules of Procedure,
  1. whereas islands, classified as NUTS-2 and NUTS-3 regions, have common and permanent specific features, which clearly distinguish them from mainland areas;
  2. whereas Article 174 of the TFEU recognises the permanent natural and geographical handicaps specific to the situation of islands;
  3. whereas the reduction in economic, social and environmental disparities between regions and polycentric harmonious development are the main objectives of cohesion policy, in close connection with achieving the objectives of the Europe 2020 strategy;
  4. whereas the economic crisis has impacted dramatically on the national and regional budgets of many Member States by limiting the availability of financing in many sectors and leading to a 20 % collapse of public investment; whereas, as also pointed out in the Sixth Report on Economic, Social and Territorial Cohesion, the impact of the crisis has seriously affected the potential development of many disadvantaged regions, including islands; whereas the economic crisis has reversed the long-term trend of convergence of GDP and unemployment rates across the EU, resulting in increased poverty and social exclusion and preventing the achievement of the Union’s long-term objective of economic and territorial cohesion;
  5. whereas EU islands are also peripheral regions situated in some cases on the EU’s external borders and are particularly vulnerable to the challenges which Europe is currently facing, such as globalisation, demographic trends, climate change, energy supply and, especially for the southern areas, exposure to increasing migration flows;
  6. whereas European islands contribute to the diversity of the Union in both environmental terms (specific habitats and endemic species) and cultural terms (architectural heritage, sites, landscapes, agricultural and non-agricultural features and geographical identities);
  7. whereas European islands can contribute to strengthening sustainable development in the Union, given their high potential for producing energy from renewable sources due to specific exposure to wind streams, ocean swell and sunlight;
  8. whereas the accessibility of regions and connections within islands are key factors in making island areas more attractive for skilled workers and businesses; whereas there is a need to attract investment, to create new jobs and to reduce maritime and air transport costs for people and goods, in accordance with the principle of territorial continuity, while also making efforts to reduce emissions and pollution deriving from maritime and air transport;
  9. whereas agriculture, breeding and fisheries constitute an important element of local island economies, which are a source of supply for a significant part of the agro-industrial sector, and whereas these sectors suffer due to lack of accessibility, particularly for SMEs, a low level of product differentiation, and climate conditions;
  10. whereas intensive tourism is, for most islands, an important part of their local economy but tends normally to be concentrated only in certain periods of the year and not adequately planned outside the season, and this may entail risks for the environmentally sustainable development of island regions;
  1. Encourages the Commission to provide a clear definition of the type of geographical, natural and demographic permanent handicaps that insular regions can suffer from, with reference to Article 174 of the TFEU;
  2. Asks the Commission how it intends to implement the wording of Article 174 of the TFEU regarding the permanent handicaps of insular regions that hinder their natural development and prevent them from achieving economic, social and territorial cohesion;
  3. Recognises the importance of providing support to tackle the significant depopulation trend in island regions; recalls that certain handicaps are more difficult to cope with for islands, in proportion to their small size and their remoteness from the European continental coasts;
  4. Requests that the Commission launch an in-depth study/analysis on the extra costs incurred as a result of being islands, in terms of the transport system for people and goods, energy supply and access to markets, in particular for SMEs;
  5. Is of the opinion that islands should have a proper definition/categorisation that will take into account not only their differences and specificities but also their specific situation; invites the Commission, on the basis of Article 174 of the TFEU, which recognises the special situation of islands, to set up a homogeneous group made up of all island territories; calls on the Commission, furthermore, to take into account, besides GDP, other statistical indicators that can reflect the economic and social vulnerability arising from natural permanent handicaps;
  6. Recalls that, in accordance with Council Directive 2006/112/EC, certain European islands have been granted special tax arrangements as a counterbalance to their natural and demographic permanent handicaps; stresses the importance of those special tax arrangements for local communities and economies, and calls for their continuation, especially in those Member States that are under economic adjustment programmes;
  7. Recalls especially the need for better connectivity through maritime routes, improved access to ports and better air transport services; considers that particular emphasis should be placed on transport hubs, inter-modal transport and sustainable mobility; stresses also the need to support balanced territorial development of island regions by promoting innovation and competiveness in these regions, which are remote from the major administrative and economic centres and do not benefit from ease of access to transport, and by strengthening local production for local markets;
  8. Stresses that digital capacity is a vital means of counterbalancing the connectivity handicaps of island regions; emphasises that investments in infrastructure are required in order to ensure broadband access on islands and the full participation of islands in the digital single market;
  9. Recalls that many islands in the Mediterranean have seen huge numbers of migrants arriving and are having to deal with this situation; underlines the need for a holistic EU approach, which should include EU support and a joint effort by all Member States;
  10. Underlines the importance of providing education at all levels, where necessary also by making more use of distance education systems; recalls that islands are also facing serious

climate change impacts, with particularly serious consequences, including increasing numbers of natural hazards;

  1. Emphasises that, while islands face constraints, they also benefit from a territorial potential, which should be used as an opportunity for development, growth and job creation; stresses the importance of low tax and red tape reduction policies as key incentives for attracting investment; mentions, in this context, the development of sustainable tourism in addition to seasonal tourism, focusing on the promotion of cultural heritage and specific artisanal economic activities; stresses also the huge potential of ocean, wind and solar energy and the potential of islands to become important sources of alternative energy, to be as energy-autonomous as possible and, above all, to guarantee cheaper energy supplies for their inhabitants;
  2. Stresses, in this connection, the importance of using all possible synergies between the European Structural and Investment Funds and other Union instruments with a view to counterbalancing the handicaps of islands and enhancing their economic growth, job creation and sustainable development situation;
  3. Calls on the Commission to establish an ‘EU Strategic Framework for Islands’ with a view to linking up instruments that can have a major territorial impact;
  4. Calls on the Member States and regional and local authorities to play an important role in the development strategies of islands on the basis of a vertical approach that involves all levels of government, in accordance with the principle of subsidiarity, with a view to ensuring the sustainable development of EU islands;
  5. Suggests that the Commission establish an ‘islands desk’ linked to the Commission’s Directorate-General for Regional and Urban Policy (DG REGIO) and made up of a small group of officials in order to coordinate and analyse issues relating to island regions;
  6. Calls on the Commission to submit a communication containing an ‘Agenda for EU Islands’ and, subsequently, a White Paper to monitor the development of islands, based on best practice and involving local, regional and national authorities and other relevant actors, including economic and social partners and representatives of civil society;
  7. Calls on the Commission to propose a European Year of Islands and Mountains;
  8. Invites the Commission to bear in mind the specific situation of islands when preparing the proposal for the next multiannual financial framework;
  9. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the Committee of the Regions and the Member States.

Development Officer Post for S.I.F. – job description

Scottish Islands Federation Development Officer Post 

JOB DESCRIPTION 

1-year part-time (about 22 hr/wk), with the possibility of extension

April 2016 – March 2017.

based on the equivalent of full-time salary in range £18k – £21k

 Main aims of post

 Reporting to the board of the Scottish Islands Federation you will develop and consolidate the organization by:

  • increasing the membership of and support for the Scottish Islands Federation.
  • being the first contact for the Scottish Islands Federation.
  • developing quality communication with members, politicians and the wider public.
  • providing administrative support to the board of the Scottish Islands Federation.
  • delivering the activities of the Scottish Islands Federation.
  • assisting in financial planning and keeping records.
  • overseeing the updating of existing energy audits and encouraging other islands to take up energy auditing.

Subject to further funding:

  • managing the delivery of the Island Electric Vehicle Transport pilot project to promote the use of electric vehicles on islands.
  • working with partners on delivery of INTERREG EUROPE project on Entrepreneurship.

Responsibilities

 As the Development Officer for the Scottish Islands Federation you will, in liaison with the Board, be responsible for:

Planning

  • contributing to the strategic planning process for the development of the Scottish Islands Federation and its activities.
  • ensuring the board of the Scottish Islands Federation are kept fully up to date with progress of planning activities.
  • (subject to funding) planning the delivery of the Island Electric Vehicle Transport pilot project.
  • planning budgets as required.

Membership

  • actively making contact with island communities and encouraging membership.
  • encouraging bodies at every level of governance (local government, national government) and relevant public and private organisations to become associate members.

Income generation and finance

  • delivering a programme of events & activities that produce useful development opportunities for island communities as well as generate income.
  • identifying and delivering funding opportunities to support the work of the Scottish Islands Federation, and secure its financial future.
  • managing budgets and keeping proper accounts in liaison with the board of the Scottish Islands Federation.
  • planning and managing the evaluation of the outcomes of events and activities, including submission of monitoring and evaluation reports to funding bodies.

Service delivery

  • organising, in liaison with the Chair, board meetings, the AGM and other meetings, and taking and circulating minutes.
  • maintaining and developing the Scottish Islands Federation website and social media. and producing quarterly newsletters.to communicate with members, governments (local, national, EU), other European island groups and the wider public.
  • acting as the first contact for the membership, external bodies and the media.
  • ensuring the Scottish Islands Federation delivers an outstanding service to its membership.
  • reviewing feedback of all kinds (including internet based feedback) from members and others to ensure service improvements are continually made.
  • developing an inclusive and welcoming culture as a trademark of the Scottish Islands Federation.
  • building constructive and open working relationships with the board and other staff.
  • other tasks subject to further funding.

 Island development

  • communicate with island organisations and visit if appropriate to identify, discuss and research issues of current importance for island communities, devising and using surveys, analysing and evaluating results, and producing reports.
  • represent the Scottish Islands Federation at meetings and manage relationships with the media and external stakeholders, including at national level.
  • participate in project work with wider partnerships, including the Island Electric Vehicle Transport pilot project.
  • compile reports as required to the board and for the Scottish Government.

Skills – to evidence on application (A) and at interview (I)

Essential skills

  •  previous practical experience of similar roles (A)
  • track record of fundraising and income generation (A)
  • motivated to engage and involve communities with a track record of creating success through this involvement (I)
  • good ‘fit’ with the culture of island communities (I)
  • good project and budget management skills (A)
  • good working knowledge of office software and its applications, of social media and of maintaining and developing a website (A)

Desirable skills

  • knowledge of business and marketing plans (A)
  • preparation of funding applications (A)
  • have a track record in community consultation, engagement and involvement (I)
  • have experience of / interest in PR, event management, and use of Facebook and other social media to communicate to a wider public (A)

Working hours and environment

  • work flexibly to deliver the requirements of the contract, including weekends and public holidays if necessary.
  • preferably based on an island near a major island transport hub such as Oban or in such a hub itself, to facilitate visits to island communities.
  • work from a convenient home base as above and/or a hot desk in an island office to be negotiated with the successful candidate, including the provision of office equipment.
  • full driving licence and access to a suitable vehicle essential.

Completed letters of application and CV should be sent by email to Alastair Fleming (SIF director):alastair@atlanticislandscentre.com.

If you add a read receipt your application will be acknowledged as received.

Closing date: 14 April 2016 at 18.00. Interviews for short-listed applicants will be held in Oban in the week beginning 25 April 2016.

SIF showcased at Switch to Renewables Conference in Somerset.

SWITCH TO RENEWABLES: an inspirational seminar in Somerset

Planning, Policy and Finance to enable carbon reduction - Local Regional and European Perspectives Seminar.
SIF chair in the centre with speakers from Frome, Murrhardt and Chateau Gonthier.

On 4 and 5 March, Frome town council in Somerset organised an innovative and inspirational seminar on how to switch to a low carbon economy.

SIF Chair Camille Dressler presented the case of Eigg’s green grid and Mull and Iona’s sustainable transport initiative as inspirational Scottish Islands examples.

Other Case studies were from Frome, Germany, France and Poland, where Frome town council has twinning partners.

Prof Keith Barnham (Solar Revolution), presented a fascinating comparison of what has happened in Germany in terms of exponential renewable development and what could have happened to the UK if the Feed in Tariff and other encouraging measures had not been cut.

To see his presentation and others, click here.

Cold Water Tourism Conference on Arran 14-16 March 2016

2nd Cold water tourism conference in Arran

Cold water island tourism is a new initiative to promote, celebrate and help develop tourism on small cold water island destinations around the world.

Meet private sector drivers of tourism – Investors – Public sector policy makers – Politicians and civic leaders – Destination managers and marketeers – Educationalists and researchers: it is all happening on the isle of Arran  on 14th – 16th March 2016.

Following on from last year’s success, this second  Cold Water Tourism conference will focus on sustainable economic development on islands and rural areas and is supported by the North Ayrshire Council.

Download the programme here:

SIF director Frank Corcoran will be attending and will report on the conference and its merits.

What the prospectus says:

For many cold water maritime countries, in both the northern and southern hemispheres, their islands make a valuable contribution to the overall tourism experience and the economy.

In the Northern Hemisphere this is especially the case in most of the North Atlantic (Scandinavian, Germany, Netherlands and Baltic nations as well as Scotland, Ireland, Wales and, to a lesser extent the rest of the UK).

In terms of our understanding of the value, market demand and economic impact there has been relatively little research. Most of the published work, and indeed the focus of most travel writers, is upon ‘warm water island’ tourism. This is also the case for many of the conferences that take place on this subject.

The AIM is to redress this situation.

The ‘cold water islands’ face common tourism opportunities and challenges. There is real potential for collaboration, sharing knowledge and developing a common research agenda.

There is a collaborative opportunity to DIRECTLY assist

island tourism. We need to develop a robust and innovative programme of activity designed to help tourism professionals.

Knowledge transfer and sharing sits comfortably with the notion of international cooperation.

At the same time there is scope to jointly develop events and festivals across a wide geographic area that can develop tourism visits.
It is possible to design and develop events to be hosted at several islands – to create innovation, quality and reduce costs.

A key element of a collaborative approach is to develop fresh appropriate methods for measuring and evaluating ‘success’.
In particular, there is the potential to develop a new Island ‘Livability Index” and to understand tourism’s contribution to this ‘index’.

ORGANISING GROUP

Lars Olsen — (Denmark)
Alastair Dobson — Visit Arran (Scotland)
Terry Stevens — Stevens and Associates (Wales)

Vision

Making small cold islands tourism destinations of choice helping to making them sustainable (financial, economic, social and environmental) and attractive places to live and work.

Mission

“Creating a unique network of cold water island destinations in order to benefit from having a representative voice of influence and forging collaborative working and sharing practical solutions based
upon successful actions and evidence.”

Aim

To give this mission with a starting point by organizing the first ANNUAL European Conference on ‘cold water island tourism’.

Objectives

— Share knowledge of successful practical projects; — Create networks of expertise and information;
— Discuss common issues and opportunities to grow

the value of tourism;
— Identify innovative solutions to underpin sustainable growth; — Celebrate and recognise best practice project;
— Develop a common agenda for support and development; — Promote awareness of cold islands as tourism destinations; — Influencing eu programs and policies.

Desired outcomes

— Establishing and growing an on-going network and dialogue between destinations

— Creating a central and accessible pool of research, knowledge and case studies

— Holding regular symposia, conferences and workshops — Promoting the interests of these destinations

We need to raise the status of tourism in the context of economic development in maritime countries. This is best done through improving our understanding of the potential for growth in the context of:

Market trends Innovation Investment Climatic issues Sustainability Accessibility

THE TIME IS RIGHT

The EU’s ‘Blue Growth Strategy’ is highlighting the importance of developing all aspects of the marine environment for economic development. This is supported by a new focus on “Cold Water Islands” as part of the EU programs 2014-2021.

International conferences have been announced to consider future of Island communities. There is a real opportunity to influence these agendas.

For many island communities, tourism is the main stay of their economy. It is a sector in growth and offers considerable scope for enhanced sustainable development. As a result, there is now a growing interest at the level of national Governments to take advantage of these island assets.

Tourism is becoming increasingly segmented with a diversity of markets and interest groups, which increases the opportunities for cold water islands.

THE OPPORTUNITIES FOR COLLABORATION

Most island communities have a strong heritage and cultural resources. As a result of their heritage of having to be self sufficient there is generally a good asset base of local crafts and produce creating a very compelling sense of place.

Island tourism businesses tend to be micro / SMEs. They are often marginal businesses but the cash generated is vital for the overall survival of island communities. Much of the appeal and product base is also small scale. It takes the form of special interest tourism and events, often featuring indigenous art, music, history, archeology, hand crafts and sport.

LAND REFORM NEEDS TO LOOK SEAWARD

Land reform needs to look seaward.

pressed from  the Scottish Community Alliance , 24 Feb 2016 briefing

Anyone following the recent twists and turns of the Land Reform Bill’s passage through Scottish Parliament will have noticed a distinct stiffening in the resolve to produce a Bill that has real bite. Much of this effort to date has focused on achieving greater transparency as to who actually owns land. It now seems that this Bill is effectively laying the groundwork for a much wider programme of reform to follow. Glen Smith, researching for his PhD at Tromso University in Norway, argues that the marine environment needs to figure much more prominently in the debates to come.

By Glen Smith, University of Tromso

For the past three years I have been engaged in research into how marine spatial planning will affect the management of Scotland’s coastal, foreshore and inshore areas (up to 12 nautical miles from the coast). The new planning system will be guided by the National Marine Plan (2015), and regional plans will be formulated within the 11 new Scottish Marine Regions. Marine planning partnerships – comprised of local experts, practitioners and stakeholders – will work within each of these regions to tailor the plans to local needs. The system is designed to allow more local ownership and decision making about specific issues within their area.

In the course of my work I have become less interested in the technicalities of planning at sea, and more interested in what this new infrastructure means for local democracy and the voice of coastal and island communities. For several reasons it appears that the democratic foundation of marine spatial planning in Scotland might not be as strong as is claimed.

Firstly, the consultation system supporting decision making in the marine environment is far from perfect, and often exclusive. The Community of Arran Seabed Trust (COAST), for example, has faced this problem. COAST is one of the UK’s leading community marine conservation organisations. Their achievements are quite remarkable, including the establishment of Scotland’s first no-take zone in Lamlash Bay in 2008. However, despite the high level of local support, the organisation has been denied input into consultation on the management options for marine protected areas and is unlikely to be represented in the new local planning partnership. It appears that COAST will be overlooked in the latest governance infrastructure for marine resource management.

Secondly, marine spatial planning immediately raises questions over the role of the Crown Estate (Commission). This organisation owns and manages over half of Scotland’s foreshore and almost the entire inshore seabed. It negotiates leases on this space with any new actor wishing to develop a project, as they will require anchorage or some point of contact to the seabed. Although stringent environmental regulations and impact assessments are followed, the democratic input by local communities into these lucrative business deals is often limited. For many, marine management is an exclusive realm dominated by those bodies who possess the skills, knowledge, and expertise in the field: Marine Scotland; the Crown Estate; Scottish Natural Heritage; the Joint Nature Conservation Committee.

For planning in Scotland’s seas the starting point is typically ‘blue growth’, project development, nature conservation, and conflict resolution. These are challenging issues that do indeed require careful planning. However, the starting point is rarely local democracy, subsidiarity, or strengthened communities, even though the government is committed to improving these aspects of Scottish life.

The key to raising the profile of coastal and island communities may lie in introducing a new concept into land reform debates. I propose we call it ‘marine land’. The 2014 report by the Land Reform Review Group clearly states, “the land of Scotland in this context is the territorial land area of Scotland, including Scotland’s seabed out to the 12 nautical mile territorial boundary” (p16). And yet this area is rarely more than name-dropped in debates over land reform (and, indeed, in the rest of that report). Seen from a governance and decision-making perspective, the Crown Estate is a private landowner. So why do we not consider more radical ways to increase input by communities in marine resource management, such as community buyout of marine land?

Critics will cite the lack of expertise and funds in communities, the need for a unified vision for Scotland’s seas, and concerns over the true intentions of communities owning the seabed. My research is focused on imagining what a new governance system might look like that addresses such concerns. Following through with the planned two-stage reform of the Crown Estate is an important element, as is continued strong guidance from the National Marine Plan. The potential roles of local councils, development trusts, and Community Land Scotland all need to be considered. Communities will also need to be able to count on localised scientific support. The devil is in the detail, and the details are complex.

Terrestrial examples have proven that land buyout by communities can be risky. They need to be financially stable. Local governance structures need to be flexible, yet robust. And what happens if they fail? Who takes responsibility?

But successful projects have brought measurable community benefits such as job creation, population retention (and growth), increased investments and improved facilities, as well as less quantifiable benefits such as social trust, belonging, a sense of place and identity, and new local democratic institutions.

I do not advocate the immediate sale of all ‘marine land’ to communities. But I do propose that we address the worrying absence of the seabed in land reform debates. And I propose that we address the worrying absence of community development in marine spatial planning. 

 

Islanders celebrate South of Arran MPA

South Of Arran MPA finally comes into effect along with 13 other MPAs.

Following 5 years of campaigning,  islanders celebrate the birth of the long awaited South Arran MPA.

Representatives from coastal communities, scallop divers, sea anglers and conservation organisations showed their passion and support for MPAs at Holyrood last month, coinciding with a Rural Affairs Committee debate on the future of MPAs. To the delight of thousands of MPA supporters on Arran and throughout Scotland, the committee voted against a motion to annul MPAs by Jamie McGrigor (cons) MSP by seven votes to two.

COAST‘s Andrew Binnie said: ‘The Scottish Government’s refusal to buckle to scaremongering from the mobile prawn lobby (also debunked in Scottish Environment LINK paper) means the South Arran MPA came into effect on 8th February 2016 along with legislation for a further 13 MPAs including the St Kilda World Heritage Site MPA. We are celebrating on Arran this week and looking forward to healthier and more productive seas around Arran and Scotland. This will benefit all marine stakeholders and future generations‘.

New Arran MPA Marine Discovery Centre scheduled

The South Arran MPA prohibits scallop dredging but still allows bottom trawling in outer areas of the MPA. Apart from in the existing small No Take Zone in Lamlash Bay, sea angling is permitted within the entire area as well as all other recreational activities.
As community and visitor surveys have shown a real demand for a Marine Discovery Centre on Arran, COAST is now fundraising to make this project come true.

Delay for the Small Isles MPA.

Mr Lochhead, the Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs also announced that the Wester Ross and Loch Sunart to Sound of Jura Marine Conservation Orders went before parliament on 5th of February, meaning they will come into effect in late March.

Disappointingly, the Small Isles MPA will go back out to consultation and will now be delayed until at least the summer.

Dave Thompson SNP MSP for Skye and Lochalsh has written to Marine Scotland’s Marine Protection Area (MPA) Consultation strongly supporting the submission on the Small Isles MPA from the Mallaig and North West Fishermen’s Association.

Mr Thompson said, ‘I strongly support the modest changes to the Small Isles MPA that the MNWFA are requesting. These changes will mitigate the economic impact on the west’s fishermen of the MPA fishing restriction, but will not endanger any marine features.’

The Small Isles Community Council will in the meantime continue to support the proposals as they stand: ‘The Sound of Canna Fan Mussel colony is probably the most important wildlife asset in the Small Isles, at least on a par with the Manx Shearwater colony on Rum. It is a community asset and the feelings of the local community that support it should be respected. There is a national and an international responsibility to protect it and it will bring pride as well as economic benefits to the local area including the Small Isles by attracting a new strand of wildlife tourism.’

 

 

New Island resolution voted on in EU parliament

New Island resolution voted on in EU parliament on 4 February 2016

MEPs urge the European Commission to take concrete steps to address the permanent handicaps that EU islands face and make full use of their potential,  in a resolution voted on Thursday. The text also stresses the unique difficulties that southern insular regions face due to the increased migration flows and asks that special tax regimes should continue.

MEPs list the actions that they want the Commission to take to address the unique and vulnerable situation of EU islands. The resolution calls on the Commission to:

  • set up “a homogenous group made up of all island territories”, based on EU Treaty Article 174, which recognises the permanent handicaps of insular regions,
  • take account of other statistical indicators, besides GDP, which will reflect the economic and social vulnerability of these regions,
  • launch an in-depth study/analysis in the extra costs incurred as a result of being an island (e.g. transport system, energy supply and access to markets),
  • establish an “EU Strategic Framework for Islands” which would link up instruments that could have a major territorial impact, and
  • submit a communication on an “Agenda for EU Islands” and subsequently a White Paper to monitor the development of islands.

Islands exposed to migration flows

Parliament stresses that EU islands are also peripheral regions on the EU’s external borders. The southern areas and the many Mediterranean islands are particularly exposed to increased migration flows. MEPs ask for an EU-wide approach, “which should include EU support and a joint effort by all member states”, to help them.

Special tax regimes should continue

MEPs approved an amendment stressing “the importance of special tax arrangements for local communities and economies”- some EU islands have been granted special tax arrangements to counterbalance their permanent natural and demographic handicaps – and “calling for their continuation, especially in those member states that are under economic adjustment programmes”.

Resolution on the role of regional authorities

In a separate resolution voted on Thursday, MEPs ask that regional and local authorities be given a bigger role in managing EU structural and investment funds in 2014-2020, to help boost their impact.

Innovative EV programme for Mull and Iona

MIST-CAR-LOGO

Mull and Iona Sustainable Transport wins Rural Innovators Award 2015-16 for Transport

MIST’s aims to reduce CO2 emissions and dependance on fossil fuel  on Mull and Iona, have been recognised by this award from the Rural parliament.

As travel and transport choices account for up to half or more of many households’ total CO2 emission, Electric Vehicle trials, liftsharing coordination , efficient driving tips and information about switching to EVs are all part of this innovative project.

Funded by the Scottish Government’s Climate Challenge Fund, a team of 3 MIST Project Officers has been appointed to promote environmentally friendly island travel options through to March 2016.

EV hot spot events

With several EVs already being driven routinely here on the islands, 5 public charging points for EVs already operational and plans for rapid chargers in Tobermory and Fionnphort,  Mull is already well ahead of most other island communities. Recognising Mull as a ‘Hot Spot’ for EVs, the Energy Savings Trust has collaborated with MIST to present some special local events to bring all interested islanders up to speed with electric cars and incentives to switch.

Liftshare

The Mull and Iona Lift Share page established on Facebook has attracted over 350 members to engage, supportive of its purpose: To match willing drivers with willing passengers to share journeys. This group is open to any islander over 18 who is interested in linking up to share journeys.

EV trials

A Nissan LEAF electric car  has been purchased by MIST to enable islanders to enjoy the experience of driving with zero emissions and very low running costs. MIST is also acquiring an all electric Citroen Berlingo van for islanders and especially for island businesses to try out for free and to borrow. There is now a long list of folk who have expressed interest in free test drives and borrowing the car for a few days.

Following MIST’s successful collaboration with the Energy Savings Trust to host Electric Vehicle ‘Hot spot’ events on Mull, a Mitsubishi Highlander hybrid 4WD has been offered as a free loan, available for islanders to try out at no cost for a 2 months period.

Free EV training events offered to islanders on Mull and Iona

With several EVs already being driven routinely here on the islands, 5 public charging points for EVs already operational and plans for rapid chargers in Tobermory and Fionnphort, Mull is already well ahead of most other island communities.

On Wednesday 17 and Thursday 18 February, MIST – –  is offering free training events to help current and prospective EV owners to look after their EV’s, and make the case for EVs as a suitable alternative for individuals and local groups.

Check the MIST website for more details.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Successful end to SMILEGOV project

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SMILEGOV Summary Report for Scottish Island Federation AGM December 2015, Terry Hegarty, SMILEGOV project officer

The Scottish Islands Federation (SIF) has recently completed involvement in a 30 month European project to support more effective approaches to strategic energy planning and development of sustainable energy projects on islands.

The SMILEGOV project’s acronym derives from ‘Smart Islands Governance’, a critical consideration for island communities aspiring to sustainability. The capacity of individual islands to comply with European energy targets widely depends upon collaborative planning and effective participatory engagement of key stakeholders. These typically include agencies of both local and central government, island community and business interests, land owners, energy companies, regulatory bodies and technology specialists.

Scotland offered a distinct model

Elsewhere in Europe, Municipal or Regional Authorities commonly lead development of sustainable energy projects and plans for islands. SIF has thus participated alongside 11 other networks spanning 163 island authorities throughout the Baltic, Mediterranean and Atlantic regions and beyond, nearly all represented by local government personnel. The ‘community NGO’ model for leading developments on Scottish islands with which SIF has worked is quite distinct and evidently of interest to some other consortium members, motivating a study group of Estonian Islanders to visit Mull in June 2015.

Parallel programmes of themed island energy workshops arranged and reported throughout Europe have effectively pooled information, knowledge and perspectives to enhance capacity for development of island energy plans and projects throughout SMILEGOV’s ‘clusters’.

Energy priorities for Islands

Energy priorities facing Islands were identified, drawn together and addressed, through SMILEGOV consultations and reports completed (or in the pipeline):

  • Mobility
  • Communication
  • Business Models
  • New Technologies
  • Smart Grids
  • Permit Processes
Identified constraints

In Scotland constraints facing island energy projects in Scotland notably include:

  • Grid constraints
  • Accessibility of data to inform plans
  • Planning constraints
  • Local capacity to lead developments
  • Consistency of government support
Best practice highlighted

Through SMILEGOV, difficulties, best practice and achievements have also been highlighted. See the SMILEGOV case studies of the project website at www.sustaianbleislands.eu.

SIF worked with Community Energy Scotland (CES) to monitor, support and report on progress of a number of individual energy projects within our cluster of Scottish Islands.

8 energy audits completed for Scottish islands

Inspired by SMILEGOV, and also supported by CES through Local Energy Scotland, SIF initiated a separate project to facilitate Island Energy Audits for participating Scottish islands. Each of eight resulting reports presents useful baseline data to inform more effective approaches to energy planning at island level. Follow up activity is already being pursued in the cases of Iona and The Small Isles

Islands as test beds 

Due to the generic nature of energy challenges facing islands, it is increasingly recognised in Scotland as elsewhere, that islands may serve as valuable test beds for emergent technologies, and proving grounds for more effective multilateral approaches to strategic local energy planning for sustainability.