All posts by camilledressler

Smart Sustainable Inclusive Blue Growth

4th Atlantic Stakeholder Platform Conference, Glasgow 

If the potential of the blue economy is to be realised, strategy must be based on local need and local communities must be key stakeholders – this was the message from Jerry Lundy, Committee of the Regions.

The Atlantic Action Plan was adopted in 2013 with the aim of revitalising the marine economy in its five partner nations – France, Ireland, Portugal, Spain and the UK. The Plan has four priorities:

  • To promote entrepreneurship and innovation.
  • To protect, secure and enhance the marine and coastal environment.
  • To improve accessibility and connectivity.
  • To create a socially inclusive and sustainable model of regional development.

The Action Plan was an invitation to the private sector, the research community, regional and national public bodies and others to develop projects based around these four priorities. A Support Team was set up to offer guidance, project development support and to help find funding for projects.

Each year a stakeholder conference facilitates networking, helps identify project partners and scope funding opportunities. As current chair of the Atlantic Strategy Group, the UK hosted this 4th conference in Glasgow which focussed on the 4th priority ‘Regeneration across Generations: socially inclusive sustainable development of the European Atlantic seaboard’.

The lack of dedicated funding was highlighted as a key challenge – trying to identify the most appropriate funding stream and then going through the complex and lengthy application process has made it very difficult for small-scale innovative projects to get involved.

Some of the projects coming through are fantastic and it’s well worth having a look through the 17 that were nominated for awards to see if any are relevant to your own community. Projects involving Scotland include:

  • Cool Route: increasing marine tourism and its reach into local economies along a new route from Cork to Tromsø in Western Norway.
  • Circular Ocean: tackling marine pollution by looking at ways to use discarded fishing nets including in 3D printing, waste water treatment and reinforcing building material.
  • TAPAS: Tools for Assessment and Planning of Aquaculture Sustainability.
  • ATLAS: developing new tools to better explore the Atlantic ecosystem on a trans-Atlantic scale.
  • Smart Fish: development of a new electronic tag to monitor seafood from harvest to plate.

At the event we heard about the Bio Base North West Europe project that has brought together a range of partners to provide financial, technological, training, networking and political support to enterprises innovating in biobased products and processes – one project that has been helped to get off the ground is Celtic Renewables which is developing next generation biofuel using waste from malt whisky production.

One project achieved a special award for reaching so many people across different communities and generations. Set up by a small group of women, the IAIA Association of Solidarity Needlework (IAIA means granny in Spanish) is a non-profit organisation offering “Yarn Therapy” in nursing homes, senior centres, schools etc.  Families donate balls of wool and a network of over 400 volunteers knit, crochet or use other needlework to make blankets and items that are then donated to refugees.  In 2015/16 the group decided to knit for a blue cause: to protect our marine environment and celebrate the World Oceans Day – 300 blue blankets, 3,000 scarves and 1,000 endangered knitted animals were produced and showed in schools, day care centres, museums and at the Ministry.

Workshops attended at the event included:

Year of Scotland’s Coast and Water 2020:  marine tourism has been identified as a key growth area and a range of projects were highlighted – Cool Route, West Coast Marine Tourism Collaboration led by Argyll & the Isles Tourism Co-operative, development of a Maritime Skills course at Argyll College UHI, Sail West Project and the Hebridean Whale Trail.  The difficulty of balancing growing tourism with local infrastructure and conservation was highlighted – ‘identity mapping’ was a technique used in Holland to put the local community in control of development.

Community-led Local Development: opportunities for fisheries communities and co-operation: Scotland’s whole coast is covered by Fisheries Local Action Groups (FLAGs) but very few projects are coming forward for funding – only 33 in Scotland compared to Ireland’s 190.  Information for each country can be found from the support unit FARNET.

Small Islands Think Big in Orkney

‘Small Islands are “the agents of change” that can be trusted to make the low carbon revolution happen in Europe’ declared Brendan Devlin, Special Adviser to DG Energy, at our 2017 European Small Islands Federation annual conference.

Over 10 to 12 September, 32 islanders from 13 European countries gathered in Orkney to discuss and learn from good practice on a range of topics including island produce and branding, tourism, sustainable transport, renewable energy and smart islands.

Discussion on island branding was facilitated by Douglas Watson of Connect Local and we learned of the journey behind the growing success of Orkney’s strong branding.

coming to Orkney and discovering the Orkney food and produce brand together with the Danish Island speciality brand was an inspiration. As a small island food producer myself, I am pleased that we are looking to introduce a similar designation for the producers in our small European islands. We have established a working group and intend to have an islands brand up and running in the near future. This will identify authentic island products that meet agreed criteria and will help with marketing and of course additional employment in the food and drink sectors on the islands’ – Máirtín Ó Méalóid of Oileán Chléire (Development Co-operative of Cape Clear Island) and Vice Chair of Comhdháil Oileáin na hÉireann (The Irish Islands Federation).

Amongst other highlights were learning visits to the small islands of Shapinsay and North Ronaldsay. The community-owned wind turbine on Shapinsay generates around £90,000 each year for island projects and subsidises a community mini bus, electric taxi and an out of hours ferry service to give islanders more flexibility in their travel to and from the Orkney mainland.

The final day saw the ESIN AGM, followed by an afternoon of talks around the themes of Smart Islands and the Clean Energy for EU Islands programme.

Best of all, was the quality of the exchanges between islanders from all corners of Europe. Everyone found they had much in common in terms of opportunities and challenges and all came away feeling inspired, energised and very impressed with Orkney.

‘We will be taking the AGM and debate to Brussels next year and in the meantime, we will continue to push for the needs of the smaller islands of Europe to be recognised and addressed, especially in the context of the Territorial Cohesion Policy post 2020 and Brexit’ – Camille Dressler, Chair of SIF and ESIN.

The event was hosted by the Scottish Islands Federation in collaboration with the Orkney International Science Festival. SIF members from Fetlar, Bute, Cumbrae, Barra, Eigg, Luing, Mull, Rowsay, Egilsay & Wyre, Stronsay and Mull were able to take part thanks to support from the Community Learning Exchange which contributed to the learning visit to Shapinsay.

You can read the report from the learning visit and some of the presentations below:

Learning Visit to Orkney – September 2017

Island Passport – Branding of the Danish Islands

labelling-of-island-food-products.ESIN AGM 2017

Shapinsay Activities

Öland beyond fossil fuels

Smart Islands Initiative – Sustainable Island Mobility Plan

Elektra Tech Data Sheet – Finland’s First Hybrid Ferry

Orkney Food & Drink and Orkney Crafts Association

Smart Islands – Kythnos Smart Island Master Plan

Looking to the horizon – islands in the front line

S.I.F. draft response to Island Bill

Island Bill S.I.F.  Draft response

Islands (Scotland) Bill – call for evidence

Draft 31 August 2017

  1. The Bill creates a duty to publish a national islands plan and lay it before the Scottish Parliament. What are your views on this provision?

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 would caution against the Plan being too prescriptive and detailed as to add another layer of bureaucracy. It should have flexibility to react to changing needs, more autonomy, set out a vision for the next 5 years and how it will be achieved.
  • For the Plan to meet the needs of island communities we believe that island communities themselves must be able to build and influence it and be engaged in the monitoring of its progress/or the national plan should be about trends and aspirations with the detail being left to communities to build?
  • It should include a strong commitment to subsidiarity – what means and support will there be to ensure that local decision making and engagement extends to island communities as well as their Local Authority.   While Community Planning Partnerships may seem to already facilitate this, in our experience CPP’s are not always effective in giving communities a voice. If the Convention of Highlands and Islands is the body used to bring in the islands’ voice, we feel that there should be a mechanism to involve grassroot representation on that body, including the Scottish islands Federation.
  • What evidence will be provided to satisfy the Scottish Government that views from island communities have been sought, included and acted upon?
  • As a result of community ownership of assets, some island communities are driving innovation and change and the plan must enable their empowerment even further. Alongside this, it is important to ensure that those islands that perhaps do not yet have that core capacity are still able to be involved.
  • The plan should be underpinned by a new territorial cohesion policy for Scotland, which would adopt the principle enshrined by Articles 170 and 174 of the TFEU, in their references to the requirements on member states to link island, landlocked and peripheral regions with the central regions of the Union (Article 170) and the identification of the need to pay particular attention to regions which suffer from permanent natural or demographic handicaps such as island regions (Article 174). The principles of the Smart Islands Declaration – which were supported by North Ayrshire, Highland, Argyll and Bute and Shetland Islands Councils – should also inform the plan, by acknowledging the islands’ potential to become Smart Islands, that is to say insular territories that embarks on a climate resilient pathway, combining climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts, in order to create sustainable local economic development and a high quality of life for the local population by implementing smart and integrated solutions to the management of infrastructures, natural resources and the environment as a whole, supported by the use of ICT, all the while promoting the use of innovative and socially inclusive governance and financing schemes.
  • While it is called a ‘National’ plan, it must reflect the difference between Scotland’s islands.
  • We would like to see the plan go further to include the establishment of an islands desk/department within Scottish Government. Over the next few years the islands will be amongst the hardest hit communities in the UK as a result of leaving the EU – we need people in place and joined-up thinking to ensure ambitions can still be realised, particularly in the fields of Renewable Energy and carbon reduction.
  • In order to measure success effectively we believe there needs to be a piece of work to establish key baseline data for each island as island statistics are currently patchy and inconsistent. Some the islands which are part of mainland NUTS3 classification are not even singled out and are to all intent and purposes invisible.
  • Will the resources be in place to allow the plan to make a difference?
  1. The Bill will require Scottish Ministers and certain Scottish public authorities, to prepare island impact assessments. Do you agree with this provision? How do you think it should work in practice?

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:

  • Island Proofing means assessing policy options to ensure that optimal solutions to our islands areas are applied at all stages of policy development – but most importantly at the earliest stages – taking account of equity and equality issues, by: a) assessing the evidence of specific islands’ needs and circumstances at the start of designing a policy; b) considering the options for fair impacts on the ground in islands areas; and, c) where appropriate, adjusting policies or delivery..
  • Island proofing ought to make government more effective and more efficient and help achieve good economic, environmental and social solutions contributing to growth.
  • Island proofing should therefore be extended to all bodies with island functions and services, including utilities companies, communications providers and regulatory bodies such as OFGEM and all statutory and regulatory bodies with influence over the islands. Island proofing of the way National policies are applied ought to make them more accessible to islands: for example local food production would benefit of local abattoirs, and this may require special derogations. In terms of energy efficiency and fuel poverty, it is important that programmes are island proofed to fit locality and circumstances and acknowledge that island renewables allows production of clean electricity, which should count in terms of de-carbonisation, instead of being penalised as in Orkney. In terms of waste, the higher cost of transport to islands should be considered, as well as the burden of having to get rid of marine plastics. Distance to Market and transport integration are also aspects that need to be taken into consideration.
  • Targeted support to mitigate islands impacts may be needed. Island proofing funding would ensure that the reality of life in remote islands and the higher cost of service delivery is taken into account.
  • The “one size fits all” approach to Planning is detrimental to the islands, and island proofing should provide an opportunity to consider how the Planning function is delivered in an islands’ context.
  • With regards to the specific question of island impact assessment, we agree that a duty should be placed on relevant authorities to undertake an impact assessment when developing, redeveloping and delivering a policy, strategy or service, if it is anticipated to have a significantly different effect on an island community compared with other communities (including other island communities).
  • It is not clear to us however how an island impact assessment will be triggered. Will they be engaged in the assessment? Will island communities have a right to request an assessment? Will island communities even be in the position of knowledge to enable them to request an assessment i.e. will communities be aware of a potential impact before an assessment is triggered?
  • Adequate monitoring of commitments to island proofing will be necessary to ensure that it not just a paper exercise. The bill should detail how this will be done.
  • While it is clear that an island impact assessment will be an important tool in considering the impact on islands we feel that on its own it does not encompass the meaning we believed is behind island proofing. There are many instances of current policy and legislation that would benefit from a review with an island proofing eye.
  • In conclusion, rather than a distant tick box exercise to assess impact, island proofing needs to include the small things as well as the big, to be meaningful to people living on the islands. It needs to offer a new flexibility to be able to adapt things and try new ways of working that will suit an island setting, it needs to be a positive and wider thing, it should embed island issues rather than simply consulting on them. As well as consider impact, it should assess need and enable and drive opportunity. Bill detail proposals for island communities to ensure that island-proofing is effectively implemented and is making a measurable and meaningful difference to communities.
  1. The Bill proposes to protect the Scottish Parliamentary constituency boundary of Na h-Eileanan an Iar (the Western Isles) from change. Do you agree with this?


  1. The Bill proposes to make an exception to the rules for local government electoral wards to allow areas with inhabited islands to return 1 or 2 members (instead of the usual 3 or 4). What are your views on this proposal?

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.


  1. The Bill will provide a regulation-making power for the Scottish Ministers to create a marine licensing scheme for coastal waters. Do you agree with this power? Do you have any comments on how it should be used?

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.

  1. Does the Bill achieve its aims and are you in favour overall? Is there anything else that you feel should be included or excluded from the Bill?

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?

  1. Do you have any comments on the bill in relation to human rights or equalities?

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:

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.







Kirkwall, Shapinsay and North Ronaldsay: S.I.F. AGM 2017

 S.I.F. AGM to take place alongside ESIN AGM and Conference in Kirkwall this September

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.

From Island produce branding to sustainable transport and Community Renewable energy

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.

Good attendance from Scottish and European islands

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.

S.I.F. Draft response to Island Bill to be approved at the S.I.F. AGM.

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

S.I.F. AGM Agenda

  1. Apologies
  2. Minutes of last AGM held in Seil
  3. Chair’s report
  4. Treasurer’s report and appointment of auditors
  5. Membership subscriptions
  6. Board elections
  7. Island Bill, discussion of draft SIF response
  8. AOB

 More directors wanted!

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!











EU Cohesion Policy translated into UK policy: more S.I.F. Brexit questions!

Do we have a UK Cohesion Policy equivalent to the EU Cohesion Policy?

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!

S.I.F. letter to MPs Ian Blackford and Stephen Gethins

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.

  • Concerns about EU Cohesion policy.

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.

  • CoR and EESC recommendations on islands issues

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

  • Clean Energy EU islands declaration

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.

  • Concerns regarding current approach to negotiations

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.

  • Our questions:

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:

  1. What policies if any will be put in place at UK and Scottish level to replace the Cohesion Policy framework
  2. If such policies are to be established, how would the necessary Structural Funds be established and at what level would they be administered?
  3. How would Scotland feed into that process? How would the communities most affected be engaged to support development of policies behind the funds?
  4. How can existing levels of funding be protected?
  5. What measures are the UK Government prepared to take to ensure that cooperation with other EU island regions can continue?
 How can the UK government protect unique geographical origins and protected names, such as Scotch Beef and Scotch Lamb? What about Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) and Protected Geographical Indication (PGI), which are of such importance for the islands?
  7. What assurance can the UK Government give that any new policy framework for Scottish farmers and crofters (direct payments and rural development measures) will be adequately funded and will take into consideration the special situation of island agriculture?
  8. How is the UK Government planning to ensure that environmental protection which is crucial to the sensitive and fragile environment of Scotland’s islands will be continued?
  9. What about the 2020 goals and commitments to lowering carbon consumption, notably through production of renewable energy?
  10. We are concerned that the Scottish islands lead in renewable energy production may be further eroded and hampered as shown already by the lack of support for the shovel ready projects of Remote Island Wind in the Northern and Western Isles.

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.




Proposal for an international Small Island terroir brand

Island Specialties® – a transnational and internationally appreciated terroir brand?

Danish Island food producer Laurids Sig Christensen thinks that  island produce need to be have their own internationally recognised brand:”Island Specialties® ”

Unique island aspects

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.

Collective marketing impact

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.

Mapping production potential in small island communities

“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!”

Exploring international marketing perspectives

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

Scotland’s Place in Europe, what now?

Ignored and sidelined: Scotland’s position on a differentiated solution

“ 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.

Devolved matters now under threat

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.

Will the devolved legislatures’ views be considered ?

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.

Island Farming and crofting, Environment, Renewable Energy,  EU cooperation?

 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.

Independence? The only way forward to safeguard the Scottish islands’ economic well-being

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.



Launch of the Smart Islands Initiative

Launch of the Smart Islands Initiative at the EU parliament on 28 March 2017

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.

signing the Smart Islands declaration at the EU parliament

How to boost local island sustainable development

Two round-tables discussions, composed of experts from the European CommissionThe European Investment BankEESC – European Economic and Social CommitteeEuropean Committee of the RegionsCPMR – Conference of peripheral maritime regionsFedareneTipperary Energy AgencyEurelectric, @HEDNO – Hellenic Electricity Distribution Network Operator, Instituto Tecnológico de Canarias, S.A.Samsø EnergiakademiLloyd’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.

Important milestone

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




Smart Island Initiative is live

The Smart Island Initiative is live!



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 1: We have a website, FB and Twitter account. Please spread the news!!!

#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) .