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Post referendum talks start

Island council leaders Angus Campbell, Gary Robinson and Steven Heddle. Photo Malcolm Younger

ISLAND council leaders are in Edinburgh for the first meeting with the Scottish government to address their demands for greater powers.

The government promised to set up a working group to discuss opportunities for the islands after the 2014 independence referendum during their cabinet visit to Lerwick last month.

On Thursday Shetland Islands Council leader Gary Robinson and chief executive Mark Boden join the leaders of Orkney and Western Isles councils for the group’s inaugural session.

They will be raising issues highlighted by their Our Islands – Our Future campaign launched in June, including gaining control of local marine resources, renewable energy developments and public sector reform.

Thursday’s meeting aims to establish the terms of reference and plan of work plan.

They will also start to address their first main issue, the future of the Crown Estate.

The council leaders are also expecting to meet with the UK government’s Scottish secretary Michael Moore to have similar talks, after he made an approach earlier this month.

Robinson said: “This is a welcome opportunity to begin a discussion with ministers on a wide range of issues which are at the heart of the islands’ economies.

“It’s particularly important as we approach a time of constitutional change to explore all the options that may be available to us.”

Scottish local government minister Derek Mackay said he looked forward to working with the councils to consider the opportunities that lie ahead.

“I know that the Scottish government and the island councils share a commitment to work cooperatively to ensure the best possible outcome for the future for our island communities,” he said.

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