Robert Leslie, SNP candidate for the Orkney Constituency in the Scottish Parliament elections on Thursday May 6th has welcomed the pledge by his party to invest millions in the islands. He is particularly excited by the prospect of support to create Carbon Neutral Islands should the SNP be returned to government.
Robert Leslie said:
“A key factor in securing a strong recovery for our Islands and the rest of Scotland will be creating flourishing local communities.
“The new £20 million Rural Entrepreneur Fund will provide grants of up to £10,000 to support the creation of 2,000 new businesses, and our commitment to deliver 100,000 homes over the next ten years will ensure affordable new housing in rural and island communities.
“It is only by voting SNP on 6th May that we can truly protect our island communities, address the specific challenges they face and secure a strong recovery for all of Scotland. It’s time to put Scotland’s future in Scotland’s hands – not Boris Johnson’s.”
The Carbon Neutral Islands initiative will include pilots for islands to run on 100% renewable energy, and create circular economies tackling and processing waste and exploring more sustainable transport options.
A SNP Scottish Government would work with at least 3 islands over the next Parliament to enable them to become fully carbon neutral by 2040.
The SNP Islands Manifesto says it will:
- Invest £30 million in a programme to invest in island infrastructure and support a green recovery, an additional £500 million to support new jobs and reskill people all over Scotland, and create a new £20 million Rural Entrepreneur Fund.
- Establish an Islands Bond – offering 100 bonds of up to £50,000 to young people and families to stay in or to move to islands currently threatened by depopulation.
- Give local authorities powers to manage the numbers of second homes and work with Community Land Scotland to find the right land to deliver more housing in our rural areas. As part of our commitment to deliver 100,000 homes over the next ten years we will invest in new affordable rural housing, including on our islands.
- Develop a National Digital Academy to allow learners to access the full higher curriculum, regardless of school or location.
- Maintain investment of £6.2 million per year in the Rural Tourism Infrastructure Fund, expand the Islands Passport and invest a further £1 million in a Seasonal Ranger scheme to help support responsible tourism in our rural and remote areas.
- Deliver an Islands Connectivity Plan to replace the current Ferries Plan looking at aviation, ferries and fixed links, invest in more sustainable ferries, and ensure 30% of state-owned ferries are low emission by 2032.
- Support the creation of gigabit islands with full 5G services and connectivity from mobile providers, testing the concept on 8 islands in 4 local authority areas, and invest £25 million to install at least 39 masts to provide mobile coverage in remote rural and island communities.
- Roll out more mobile health services for direct delivery of care, particularly in rural areas with additional services and create a new centre of excellence for rural and remote medicine and social care
Tom Wills , the SNP candidate for the Shetland Constituency was also delighted by the contents of the Islands Manifesto.He said:
“Island communities are at the heart of our plans to protect and support the NHS, to create jobs and opportunities for our young people, to grow the economy, to improve the way we live and to meet our ambition to become a net zero nation as soon as we are able to.
“I am delighted that the Islands Connectivity Plan will look in detail at fixed links and ferry replacements in Shetland and other island communities. The proposed £25 million investment to create “gigabit islands” with full 5G services and the plans for more mobile health services will also improve lives for people across the Highlands and Islands.
The candidates for the Orkney constituency are as follows:
- Samuel Bown – Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party.
- Coilla Drake – Scottish Labour Party.
- Robert Fraser Leslie – Scottish National Party (SNP).
- Liam Scott McArthur – Scottish Liberal Democrats.
The candidates for the Shetland constituency are as follows:
- Martin Kerr – Scottish Labour Party
- Brian Nugent – Restore Scotland
- Peter Tait – Independent
- Nick Tulloch – Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party
- Tom Wills – Scottish National Party (SNP)
- Beatrice Wishart – Scottish Liberal Democrats