Category Archives: Island News

Islands Respond to Coronavirus

In such challenging and difficult times all communities are working hard to get plans and actions in place to make sure they are as well prepared as possible and that everyone is looked after.

Sharing ideas and information is one way we can help each other out and we have added some links to examples of island community responses to covid-19. We will keep adding to this and if you have links, templates, action plans etc that you could share please send us an email.

Isle20:  SIF is very pleased to be supporting this initiative set up by Rhoda from Tiree Tea. Many small businesses will struggle over the coming months and Isle20 is new directory of island businesses that can sell online. Its free to advertise – if you know of any producers or businesses that would like to be listed please ask them to go to www.isle20.com You can also follow on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Isle of Eigg Heritage Trust: Eigg community response to covid 19

Tiree Development Trust: community information on covid 19

Isle of Lismore: community covid 19 response updates

What challenges are you facing on your island?

Some of the challenges that we are seeing so far on the islands are around shopping supplies, the loss of the market for shellfish, loss of tourism and real concern about the number of campervans and second-home owners travelling to the islands.

We are working closely with the Scottish Government Islands Team to flag up island issues and if you have anything happening on your island that we can help to highlight please let us know.

Information & Resources

There are some quick links below and we will keep sharing information and ideas on Facebook and Twitter.

Government & Health Advice

Scottish Government Covid-19 Updates
NHS Inform
Guidance for non-health settings
Young People
Extremely Vulnerable Group – guidance on social shielding

Community Guidance & Resources

Third Sector Resilience Fund: this emergency fund for charities, community groups, social enterprises and voluntary organisations is now open for applications.
Ready Scotland Advice for Community Groups.
SCVO has set up an information hub for voluntary organisations.
Scottish Community Development Centre.
OSCR has produced some useful guidance and some FAQ such as ‘what if we have to cancel our AGM’.
Volunteer Scotland has produced guidance for volunteers as well as blog with some further links.
Argyll & Bute Help for Communities is a useful guide for community groups.
Voluntary Action Orkney Resources.
Highland Council Helpline & Support.
North Ayrshire Council & CPP Community Support Hubs.

Support for Business

Scottish Government Find Business Support.
Scottish Chamber of Commerce has created a support hub which provides quick links to support and guidance. Your local chamber will have guidance on financial support – here is a good example from Lochaber.
ACAS has information about protecting your employees and workplace here.
Federation of Small Business advice and guidance for small businesses and self-employed.
GrowBiz is increasing its support for rural enterprises by offering phone or online advice sessions, and a great range of online learning and networking opportunities.
Business Gateway has produced information including checking your insurance, continuity planning and a link to advice for employers and employees.
The Scottish Tourism Alliance is providing guidance and a daily update on its website.
Association of Convenience Stores has information and posters for retailers.
Support for Scottish fishing industry.

 

 

S.I.F. at the European Rural Parliament 2019

S.I.F. at the European Rural parliament 2019

by Camille Dressler, S.I.F. Chair

The 4th European Rural Parliament took place in Candas, Asturias in Spain on November 6-9, 2019. The host for the 4th ERP was READER, the Asturian Rural Development Network and their partners. It was a great event altogether, bringing  335 participants  from 38 countries. This year, it was combined with the Youth Rural parliament who brought extra zest to the proceedings!

The topic of this ERP was the relationship between rural and urban areas, but representing ESIN, the European Small Islands Federation which has newly joined the ERP partnership, as well as S.I.F.  I was tasked to talk about islands, and chose to concentrate on what is happening in terms of island revival in Scotland, using the example of Eigg to introduce the signs of a welcome return of younger people and families, facilitated by the help provided by Scottish Community Empowerment legislation.

As a result, Eigg  may well look forward to a visit from Alex from Belarus, as  he and other folks wanted to get ideas of how to rehabilitate the devalued concept of  communities in post soviet countries.  A chapter about Eigg also featured in the book “Europe on the move, ” launched at the ERP, a collection of stories from all corners of Europe over the 25 years of the existence of the transformative network Forum Synergies, which in an earlier incarnation had helped the inhabitants of Eigg on their journey to self-determination! You could say the island was well signposted!

  

 “Actions by civil society actors can have a crucial role in enhancing wellbeing”

ERPs are places where you meet meet really interesting people like Bill Slee of the Hutton Institute, now retired and working for the SIMRA project: Social innovations in Marginalised Rural Areas – Their booklet included the story of Community Energy in Orkney and Tacsi’s social care success in Uist,  alongside other great  rural European innovators and it was great to see the Scottish Islands so prominently featured.!

Here is what Bill says about social innovation “Creating new formal and informal institutions in civil society may be critical in developing effective responses to contemporary challenges in rural Europe.  Where markets are weak and national and local government has limited resources, actions by civil society actors can have a crucial role in enhancing wellbeing.  But what makes an effective civil society organisation, a charitable trust or an NGO effective?  Why can they operate more efficiently than the state or the market?  What are the limits to their reach? Building collaborative possibilities and creating social capital through new institutions lies at the heart of social innovation.  But policy can help and in somewhere like Scotland policies for community empowerment have contributed hugely to enhancing the opportunities.  Sometimes we need to combine policy innovation, social innovation and technical innovation to deliver improvements. But we need to focus not only on smart villages, but on making the less smart, smarter.” concluded Bill.

Smart Villages, smart islands

Another interest was the topic of Smart Villages which was discussed widely in the workshops, including ours:  Smart islands/ Smart villages. In this  workshop,  we compared strategies to ensure better, more sustainable lives and discussed how we could all learn from the Smart Islands initiative.  We learnt about innovative social care ideas in areas of Spain that find themselves very isolated: in villages of Zaragoza, older people are all given a mobile phone to enable them to be contacted and to contact help if needed.

The Smart Villages programme is the current sub-theme of the broader European Network for Rural Development ( ENRD) thematic work on ‘Smart and Competitive Rural Areas’.  With a 10 billion euros budget, this is an ambitious programme, and for us in Scotland, it might be a good idea to engage – before it is too late – with Smart Villages Scotland.

Going round the ERP market place situated in Candas’ former sardine factory decorated with the portraits of all former factory workers, it was great to explore all the different produces brought by delegates and exchange smart ideas….

Climate Emergency

As always, it is impossible to see everything and attend everything, but one workshop I really enjoyed attending was delivered by ECOLISE.

Francesca and Davie, the two ECOLISE co-presidents,  told participants that the challenge of transitioning to a Low Carbon Climate Resilient Society requires not just action at national and international levels but, most importantly, it requires ongoing, long-term, deep engagement at local community level. Our worskhop’s tasks was to reflect who we needed to involve and how,  to effect that transformative change.

Community led initiatives across Europe and elsewhere are actively envisioning creating and living within alternatives that are rooted within sustainability equality and social justice. These initiatives must be supported and become the basis of a new normal if Europe is to achieve its ambitious targets on climate action and sustainability,” said Francesca, who also made a great speech at the plenary.

Davie presented the inspiring case study of community-led action in Cloughjordan, Co Tipperary, Ireland, where the ecovillage and wider community is modelling a resilient and low-carbon society. (He did inspire me to visit, and I did a week later after finishing my Galway Smart islands training.  Plans are now afoot to invite Davie to Scotland …)

Meeting old friends! 

It was also great to meet again with Omar and Vigfus from Iceland, with whom I had a great exchange in Venhorst at the 3rd ERP in Holland. A retired actor in his 80’s, Omar is composing and singing songs about the dire state of the Earth and presented at the ERP the film he made travelling through Iceland on his bike: with the ice cap melting, his country is now seeing  a worrying increase in volcanic activity and lava eruption. As to Vigfus, he is proposing for Grimsay in Iceland to link up with Grimsay in Scotland, a great idea!

 

Fantastic hospitality rooted in  strong traditions. 

Music, songs, bagpipes, cider uniquely poured from a height – more than 500 apple varieries are grown in Asturias – often drunk whilst eating roasted chestnusts as we were offered with the espichas, the gastronomic feast of many Asturian tapas, all this truly gave all us a taste of this fascinating rural area which had to do much to re-invent itself after the closure of its mines and canning factories.

We also got a feel for the strength of the wind on the Cantabrian coast as storms abated on the Bay of Biscay  and gained  a real appreciation for the Asturias mountains traditions. These are very much alive, although at risk through abandonment of isolated hamlets and villages, but initiatives such as the Pro-biodiversity quality mark for mountain lamb have proved to be a game changer. There was much to learn in too short a time but Asturias has charmed us:  we all promised to come back.

  

The ERP 2019 call to action

The event, discussions, workshops, all this effervescent activity now needs to translate into pressure on decision makers at EU level to ensure Rural Europe is taken into consideration in all areas of policy making.  “We see the dominating urban and growth agendas combined with the disconnection between local people and decision-makers as a threat to rural life. A real rural agenda combined with inclusive cooperation and partnerships at all levels is needed to ensure rural Europe to thrive. ” clearly states the 4th ERP final declaration.

Speaking to the 4th ERP, Mihail Dumitru, Deputy Director General of DG Agriculture and Rural Development of the European Commission, supported the value of the ERP in bringing together so many countries and people across Europe with a common passion for the maintenance of our rural territories.

The new Commission for 2019-2024 is tasked with “developing a new long-term vision for rural areas and ensuring that the needs of rural areas are specifically catered for in national Strategic Plans under the new CAP”

The ERP partners will now work to ensure that the voices and messages of the 4th ERP Gathering will be heard in the corridors of power in Brussels and also in the national governments across Europe.

Rural People’s Declaration of Candás Asturias

9 th November 2019

We, 335 participants from 38 European countries, met during the 4th European Rural Parliament at the village of Candás Asturias, Spain, from 6 to 9 November 2019. Participants included rural people, representatives of civil society organisations, researchers, national governments and European Union institutions. We see the dominating urban and growth agendas combined with the disconnection between local people and decision-makers as a threat to rural life. A real rural agenda combined with inclusive cooperation and partnerships at all levels is needed to ensure rural Europe to thrive.

We, the rural people of Europe

• demand that rural is considered equal to urban in minds and practice;

• expect the right to choose where we live and work;

• call on governments to recognise and appreciate the value of rural volunteering, community life, entrepreneurship and natural resources;

• ask politicians to accept rural people, communities, entrepreneurs and municipalities as partners;

• request that the voice of rural people is heard in policy and consultative processes;

• insist poverty and social exclusion are addressed;

• ask governments and decision-makers to ensure that services are as close as possible to rural people to avoid security risks and loss of time/money;

• are ready to contribute with local service solutions and economic initiatives;

• welcome a real rural development policy for villages, communities and small towns;

• support smart, community-friendly initiatives and programmes like LEADER/CLLD and ERASMUS but demand that the regulation and administration of these programmes is simplified;

• require flexible working conditions and opportunities with effective support systems;

• ask for real, meaningful and engaging civil society participation in designing and delivering European programmes;

• encourage and support all forms of cooperation between local actors, including contractual solutions, project-based activities and multi-level partnerships of public, private and civil society actors;

• want to cooperate with local established structures and stakeholders including LEADER groups, Village/Community NGOs, development partnerships and local authorities.

Successful Island Plan Consultation!

Island Plan consultation successfully concluded!

First ever island community consultation

Over 1,000 people have contributed to the development of Scotland’s first National Islands Plan through 60 community consultation events on 46 islands.
The Island Plan team travelled by ferries, planes or small boat charter to reach as many island communities in the six island regions of Scotland in just over 3 months. Amazingly only one flight got cancelled through foggy conditions in Orkney!
    
The team met with community groups, Development Trusts Community Councils,  High schools and Primary schools, and even secured the services of an artist to capture the discussions which focussed on what works well in their communities as well as on the challenges they face – such as population retention, economic development, housing, health, environment, transport and digital connectivity.
Sessions lasted about 2 hours, following a methodology tried and tested at the Scottish Rural Parliament, and required the magic ingredients of tea, coffee and cake!

What the minister says:

Commenting on the consultation progress while visiting the Slate Islands of Easdale, Seil and Luing, as part of a programme of island visits last June, Islands Minister Paul Wheelhouse said:Last year, the passage of the first ever Act of Parliament aimed specifically at islanders’ needs and the positive contributions made to Scotland by our islands, marked an historic milestone for our islands communities.

We are steadily implementing the provisions of the Act and I am therefore delighted to see so many island residents, and others with an interest in our islands, sharing their views, hopes and aspirations for the future for our islands communities during the consultation on Scotland’s first ever National Islands Plan.

“The consultation, including events that I have been able to see during my visits this week, is ensuring we discuss challenges, learn lessons from policy successes that have been achieved across island communities, and identify factors that contribute to good policy outcomes. The evidence we are gathering will help us to better target public resources to help our islands, with the objective of enabling all who live on our islands to flourish.”

This has been an unprecedented exercise in listening to Scotland’s islanders and it is my sincere hope that this important consultation helps us to project islanders’ voices to Scotland’s policy makers and public bodies and harness the undoubted strengths and resources of islands communities, with the objective of providing the brightest, most sustainable future for our islands communities that, in so many ways, constitute the very best of Scotland.”

Online responses echo community views

360 responses have also been submitted online, by individuals and organisations such as  NFU Scotland. Here is what Lucy Sumsion, NFU’s Argyll and the Islands regional manager has to say: “ Our response set out that the main objective should be to make the islands socially and economically viable places to live and work  for islanders. This include shaping an environment that allows farming and crofting to prosper, and underpin vibrant wider economy that enjoys the same levels of services as the remainder of Scotland.” Her comment certainly echoes the aspirations of many islanders.

Community Impact assessment: a key measure

One of the key measures in the Islands (Scotland) Act 2018 is to require everyone who makes or designs new polices, strategies or services to consider how these will impact on islands.

Island Communities Impact Assessments will be one way in which relevant authorities can consider the impact of these polices, strategies or services on islands.

The consultation will also provide input to develop guidance  on how these impact assessments will operate. “This was perhaps the most complex aspect of the consultation, but our island communities have not shied away from the challenge of providing an informed response,” reports Sandy Brunton, who led the community consultation process.

We are very proud of the way island community leaders have responded to this challenge so constructively,  going out of their way to ensure good event participation,” said Camille Dressler, who chairs the the Scottish Islands Federation, one of the partner organisations in the National Island Plan consultation together with the Scottish Government and the Strathclyde Centre for Environmental Law and Governance , “ I now have to give all our thanks to Ann MacDonald, our S.I.F director from Tiree, who has masterfully handled the consultation logistics. She has done us proud and helped immensely by providing a blueprint for future island consultation!

Results expected in October 2019

The National Island Team will now get to work to collate the community and online responses over August and September, and aims to present a first draft of the National Island Plan in early October 2019.

There still is time to send your own response – until midnight – by clicking here! 

Towards a future post-brexit regional policy for Scotland

 Post Brexit regional UK policy: is there one?

In many respects EU Policies have acted as a proxy for a UK regional policy.

Through the EU Territorial Cohesion Policy,  European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) have been used to support economic development in Scotland both at regional and local level.

EU Regional Policy and funding have had a major impact in terms of reducing social and economic disparities. They have been a significant driver in transforming the economic and social wellbeing of the Highlands & Islands with £1.5 b invested up to now.

But after exiting the EU, UK regions including the Highlands and Islands will no longer be able to access the ESIF funds.

Post Brexit, the UK Government have announced that the so called Shared Prosperity Fund will replace ESIF funds. However, there is little clarity or detail supplied on the way the Shared prosperity fund will operate and on which the basis the funds will be distributed.

Why there should be one?

Estimates are that the Shared Prosperity Fund may only have 2% devoted to the rural economy, so the proportion of what will actually come to Scotland is still unknown.

The question is  whether it can be shared equally and fairly if there are no regional policy at UK and Scottish Government level.

The Scottish Rural Parliament made a clear statement on Brexit, calling for a clear and direct UK and Scottish Government’s commitment to equality for rural people, places and enterprise in Scotland, as well as reassurance through clear commitments that the UK and Scottish Government will continue to meet the needs of rural people, places and enterprises.
Read the Scottish Rural Parliament statement here.

Scotland’s Islands and Highland deserve         a coherent regional policy and support

The policy paper by HIEP – Highland and Islands European Partnership- sets out a vision for a future regional policy for Scotland that would address these concerns:

  • A future Regional Policy needs to empower the region to contribute to UK and Scottish economic growth, while recognising permanent and long term challenges.
  •  A future Regional Policy  development and delivery needs to be led by devolved administrations and regional stakeholders
  • A future regional policy needs a long term strategic focus, maximising regional economic potential that is sustainable and inclusive.
The HIEP paper calls for a need to recognise and respond to regional disparity.
  • A future regional policy should focus on regions with the greatest challenges
  • Clear and objective criteria are required, considering spatial scale and definition of selected regions.
  • There is an opportunity to consider more sophisticated selection criteria, beyond GDP per capita, for example, population sparsity, employment /participation rates, average wage levels, skill levels, economic concentration, “remoteness”, “fragility”.
  • Funding will need to be available over the
    long term at a level commensurate with the scale
    of challenge and opportunity, rather than short
    term, one-off allocations of funding.
  • Regional stakeholders should have an input to address
    the specific regional challenges and capitalise on regional opportunities.

Regional policy should be place-based

By ensuring future regional policy is place based, there is a chance to:

  • Enhance the region’s physical and digital connectivity.
  • Provide investment in sectors / clusters where the region has competitive advantage, such as marine energy and life sciences – regional Smart Specialisation.
  • Investment in new technologies, particularly  the “Local Energy Economy”
  • attract and retain talent, recognising that this is multi-faceted, including employment, education, housing, connectivity and transport.
  • Invest  in education and skills infrastructure and provision to match the future needs of the regional economy.
  • Invest in community capacity building and resilience, leading to strong, vibrant communities.

Now is the time!

HIEP  stresses that how important it is that lessons learned from our collective experience of EU programmes are captured and inform the development and delivery of successor domestic programmes.
HIEP is also stressing that time is running out. “The current structural funds programmes end in 2020 and now is the time to develop future regional policy to avoid a damaging hiatus in Regional Policy and support”, concludes their paper.
You can read the full HIEP position paper here.

 

 

S.I.F. AGM: Tiree, 18-20 September 2018

Scottish Islands Federation

2018 AGM & Learning Exchange

18-20 September 2018, Tiree

Empowering Small Island Communities – Learn from each other and have your say

What a rich and inspiring time we had in Tiree. Over the three days, thirty-two islanders representing twenty different islands came together to learn from each other and debate a wide range of topics including the Islands (Scotland) Act, Crown Estate, Brexit, Housing, Social Care, Marine Plastic, Tourism, Energy, Population & Demographics as well as a strategy session for S.I.F.

A very productive few days despite Storm Ali – and we would like to thank everyone that was able to attend, contribute and help out. We would also like to thank the Community Learning Exchange which made it possible for many of us to be there along with our funding contribution from the Scottish Government.

You can read the full report here and view some of the presentations and briefings below:

Keynote address by Michael Russell MSP

access the video link here

A

The Clean Energy for EU Islands Initiative

Malta Political Declaration on European Islands

Following on from the Smart Islands Initiative, spearheaded by island local and regional authorities of the Members States signing the Smart Islands Declaration,  momentum has been building up for national and European support for islands in Europe.

In the frame of the informal meeting of Energy ministers that took place in Valetta under the 2017 Maltese Presidency of the Council of the EU, Ministers of 14 Members States including from Greece, Malta, Cyprus, Italy, Croatia, Germany, France, Denmark, Sweden, Ireland, Spain, Portugal, Finland and Estonia signed together with the European Commission a political declaration to launch the new “Clean Energy for EU Islands” initiative.

Unfortunately the UK was not represented, although Scotland is very much at the forefront of the Renewable Energy revolution. However these policies have the support of the Scottish Government, and Scotland through S.I.F. and the Islands Councils in the CPMR are actively representing local and regional stakeholders.

Clean Energy for EU Islands” initiative.

The initiative builds on the Commission’s “Clean Energy for All    Europeans” Communication of November 2016. The overall goal is for the EU to become a low carbon economy via transformation of its energy system by

  • putting energy efficiency first
  • achieving global leadership in renewable energies
  • providing a fair deal for consumers

To start the transition process in the EU, the Initiative aims at  first accelerating the clean energy transition on EU islands, by helping them reduce their dependency on energy imports through enhanced exploitation of their own renewable energy sources and uptake of more modern and innovative energy systems.

Members States expressed their full support to the Initiative as a stable, long-term framework that will help support replicable and scalable projects through the provision of financing and technical capacity for islands.

To this end, they invited other countries to join and:

  • accelerate the clean energy transition on EU’s 2700 islands
  • help islands reduce dependency and costs of energy imports by using RES
  • embrace modern and innovative energy systems
  • improve air quality and lower greenhouse gas emissions

The Chania Inaugural Forum

The island of Crete hosted the Inaugural Forum on the “Clean Energy for All European Islands” initiative, part of the Winter Package, that was tabled by the European Commission last November under the title “Clean Energy for All Europeans”.

The Forum was organized by the European Commission and the Greek government with over 200 participants and close to 40 speakers taking the floor, representing an overwhelming endorsement by political representatives of national, regional and local level as well as industry and civil society stakeholders. Community Energy Scotland was invited to present the access project in Mull and other pioneering Scottish projects.

The islands are now widely recognised as platforms for pilot initiatives and showcases for success stories. Islands are:

  • innovation leaders for integrating local RES production, storage facilities and demand response;
  • demonstrating how decarbonisation creates resilient energy systems via reduced reliance on fossil fuel imports, the protection of environment, and autonomy of energy supply
  • showing that energy transition can be a driver for economic development (new local jobs, new business opportunities, self-sufficiency of island communities)

Next measures

The next measures are a Clean Energy Package to create the right legal framework (RES, consumers and stability for investment and a two directional approach for facilitation of transition and “island-frontrunners”: top-down and bottom up, as well as cooperation with national/regional organisations of islands

The EU commission has an ambitious objective: 1000 EU islands decarbonised by 2030!

A Clean EU Energy Islands Secretariat

The call for a Clean Energy EU island secretariat is a first step to ensure that islands can become platforms for pilot initiatives on clean energy transition and showcase success stories of islands’ transition at international level. The next step is to set up an Island Facility  under Horizon 2020 to support the comprehensive energy transition in preparatory and implementation phase.

Based in Brussels but reaching out to the islands, the Secretariat’s aim is to carry out a benchmarking study on energy systems on islands and to assist the islands to design and prepare decarbonisation plans by providing dedicated capacity building, technical assistance and advisory services.

  • It will create and manage a platform of exchange of practice for islands involved clean energy projects through a dedicated website which will also offer web-based tools to facilitate networking and exchanges.
  • It will also organise Islands Initiative forums and islands technology fairs to bring together all interested parties including investors, to share best practice in financial and regulatory tools and promoting best available technologies, with the aim to take action on the ground.
  • It will concentrate on identifying and executing clean energy projects that create local employment, community empowerment, as well as support growth in tourism, agriculture, fisheries and other important economic sectors on the islands through lower local energy pricesS.I.F. and ESIN are part of a bid to run the secretariat fronted by the CPMR, together with Community Energy Scotland. Their bid is  the only one fronted by island organisations and is supported by the Scottish Government. The winning bid will be announced by July 2018.

Islands (Scotland) Bill

Formally introduced on 9 June 2017, the Bill is for an Act of the Scottish Parliament to make provision for a national islands plan; to impose duties in relation to island communities on certain public authorities; to make provision about the electoral representation of island communities; and to establish a licensing scheme in respect of marine development adjacent to islands.

Stage 1 of the process has included a call for evidence from the Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee. Written evidence was submitted by a range of groups and individuals including SIF and you can see our submission here – thank you to everyone that contributed.

Our SIF Chair, Camille, was invited to take part in an evidence session with the Committee – you can watch it here.

The Committee also went out and about around the islands to hold direct discussion with islanders and you can read the feedback here.

 

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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Islands must be at the heart of the EU Cohesion Policy

To be an island should not be a problem but a pillar of development!

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.

Islands must think globally and act locally

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

  • Islands must think globally and act locally
  • One size does not dictate all nor add value to a nation.
  • It is important to bridge the gap between the EU and policies
  • It is crucial to get rid of bureaucratic barriers and help micro, small and medium size enterprises through changes to State Aid rules for islands and a rise in De minimis level at least in line with inflation.
  • The Cohesion Policy, as a fundamental pillar of EU construction, must act as a forward looking policy bringing EU citizens together
  • There must be a new way to look at shipping issues
  • There should be social policies for the islands
  • There should be special funding packages for the islands
  • To serve the islands adequately, there must be a place-based approach to the EU Development and Territorial Cohesion Policy.

 

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 CPMR needs to make a response to the EU White Paper and respond to the key challenges of competitiveness, investment and Territorial Cohesion.
  • It needs a strong voice and think of target audiences: EU institutions, National governments, EU Regions, Citizens and Young People.
  • Response includes making the case for EU cooperation based on CPMR principles of balanced Territorial Principles, solidarity between the EU and its regions, championing the position of regions in EU policy-making.
  • CPMR needs to prepare for a strong lobbying campaign prior to and during the EU parliamentary elections in 2018- 2019

 The islands’s access to the Single Market is not  equal to that of other regions.

The presentation by Ioannis Spillanis from the University of Aegean Island and Local development laboratory made the following points:

  • 3.4 %of EU population live on islands. Their access to the Single market is NOT equal to the access enjoyed by other parts of the EU.
  • Insularity has a negative aspect on businesses and people and Brexit will make it worse by reducing the number of islands in the EU and the overall funding share.
  • EU Sectoral policies are without differentiation
  • For the islands to realise their potential, EU policies need to include insularity clauses.
  • For this reason, a new island typology is needed. Current indicators are woefully inadequate: new indicators are required to describe the islands situation as the classification used in NUTS2 and NUTS3 is not good enough. (NUTS 3 islands are drowned in the NUTS2 areas)
  • To achieve the EU’s principles of Territorial Cohesion and Sustainability, the development model needs to be changed to include Equal opportunities for the islands and Green island policies.

Entreprise on islands  needs an  innovative approach from the EU

INSULEUR president Georgios Benetos showed how islands are left behind from the business point of view:

  • No economy of scale for the islands
  • Added costs of insularity need to be taken into account
  • Access to credit and finance is more complicated on islands

Fundamental changes in the way the EU could support the islands:

  • VAT should be lower as it is already on some islands (Corsica, Heligoland) whereas there is no VAT in the Faroe islands.
  • There should be a lower level of taxation for islands to help small and medium enterprises as well as micro-enterprises.

Islands need support as well as a Can Do approach

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.

Islands at the forefront of renewable revolution

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.

Corsica to lead on post 2020 negotiations and insularity clause

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 IC position 

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.