Dear Orkney News,
The Scottish election on the immediate horizon on 6 May is different, for some very basic reasons. We’ve had the pain and misery of the pandemic, and even though Orkney has done better than just about anywhere else in the UK, it’s of little comfort to the families of the bereaved, or the countless tourist businesses that are experiencing effectively a five Winter layoff. Lest we forget, we’re also continuing to experience the effects of climate change, the impacts of which will accelerate beyond the point of no return in less than a decade if we don’t fail to act immediately. The presence of COP26 in Glasgow in November is indeed timely.
There is therefore a pressing imperative to build back Greener. In Orkney we have our natural advantages of wind and wave, and a renewable expertise renowned the world over. For sure there are obvious difficulties in ensuring that our potential is realised, but offshore wind in particular can and must replace the role of the Flotta terminal in our economy, to ensure a just transition for its workers and their expertise. Renewable alternatives need to arrive here quickly and substantially, with no more hiccoughs like the BiFab yard in Fife. The Scottish Greens will work tirelessly to ensure that our sustainable assets are realised here in Orkney, and place the county at the epicentre of a new way forward. This isn’t wishful thinking, this is the very core of a new way forward, and our vital future, to ensure that we have genuine sustainable jobs for our youngsters as we seek to combat climate change.
In recent years, through budget agreements with the Scottish Government, the Scottish Greens have benefitted Orkney enormously – from £5.5 million additional ferry funding in 2018, to free school meals for all primary schoolchildren and free bus travel for under-22s ahead, and a progressive taxation system benefitting many in our lower wage economy.
But I’d prefer to look ahead! With an enhanced team of MSPs at Holyrood, and local Green Councillors, imagine what we could achieve in Orkney. We have a Green Investment Plan which details £7.5 billion of investment and 100,000 jobs. This means that locally, for example, we’ll support a Deep Water pier in Scapa Flow to help facilitate this investment, provided that it includes no LNG hub. But we can’t achieve anything without your votes, and that’s why I’m appealing to all Orcadians to lend your second vote on the Regional List to the Scottish Greens at the election on 6 May. This time around it really is time to vote as if our future depends upon it.
Yours, Councillor Steve Sankey, Co-convenor, Orkney Greens