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Politics / Scottish Government calls on Westminster to confirm islands deal funding details

Michael Matheson. Photo: Transport Scotland

THE SCOTTISH Government is keen for their counterparts in Westminster to announce funding arrangements for the proposed islands deal “as soon as is practicable” so that progress can be made.

Cabinet secretary for transport, infrastructure and connectivity Michael Matheson said the deal “will be a vital enabler of economic recovery in our rural areas”.

An islands deal, which has been proposed jointly by the UK and Scottish governments, would aim to drive growth and stimulate economies in Shetland, Orkney and the Western Isles.

However, it has not yet been formally confirmed, nor has the exact amount of funding it will bring to the islands.

The islands’ local authorities have proposed projects which could benefit from the deal, and in Shetland they include decommissioning, the Knab site redevelopment and the council’s energy hub.

Shetland Islands Council development director Neil Grant said the three local authorities are “pressing both governments for a deal quantum that reflects the potential of the islands projects to generate economic growth for the UK and Scotland, which on this basis should be significantly more than a per head of population allocation”.

Shetland MSP Beatrice Wishart recently asked the Scottish Government when it last met the UK Government regarding progressing an islands deal, and what was discussed.

Matheson said last week: “The Scottish Government is committed to delivering the islands growth deal and welcomes the significant progress made by Shetland Islands Council, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, Orkney Islands Council and partners in developing project proposals.

“I spoke with Iain Stewart MP, under secretary of state for Scotland, on 29 June and emphasised the need for the UK Government to announce funding arrangements for the islands growth deal as soon as is practicable to enable things to move forward.

“Investment in the regional growth deals will be a vital enabler of economic recovery in our rural areas, but only if we can move forward at pace to put the deals in place.

“I reinforced this point with Mr Stewart in seeking early progress and underlined that the Scottish Government is ready to move forward as soon as the UK Government is able to do so.”

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