Funding package to improve infrastructure on Scotland’s islands
Six island local authorities will receive a share of £4.45 million to assist critical projects on climate change, population retention and tourism.
A total of 11 projects, spread across 31 islands, have received funding for the current financial year as part of the Islands Programme.
Projects include a new visitor centre and EV charging points at Old Man of Storr, nine ‘Island Pit Stops’ at Arran and Cumbrae providing better facilities for visitors, a new nursery at Kirkwall to replace an existing building earmarked for demolition and improvement of critical sea front infrastructure at Tobermory.
Announcing the funding during her visit to Orkney, islands secretary Mairi Gougeon said: “This is an important investment especially given the consequences of the cost of living crisis and climate change which are of particular concern for our islands. This investment will go some way in helping us support our island communities.
“I am happy to be here in Orkney, to announce the allocation of £1.5m to the Orkney Islands Council for a brand new nursery facility. The new nursery will support families from both mainland Orkney and the outer isles, as well as providing opportunities for Childhood Practice Students from Orkney College.
“I wish all the successful projects the very best and look forward to following their progress.”
Scottish Futures Trust is providing support and feedback for the projects. The funding is part of the Islands Programme, which supports the implementation of the 2019 National Islands Plan, helping to make the Scottish islands even better places to live, study, work and raise a family.
Councillor Gwenda Shearer, chair of Orkney Islands Council’s Education, Leisure and Housing Committee, said: “The funding allocation for the new nursery facility is fantastic news. The stated purpose of the fund is to improve quality of life in our island areas – and improved access to child care facilities for our local families really does tick that box.
“The new facility will make an enormous difference locally and we are looking forward to progressing the project.”
Tony Rose, director for strategy, Scottish Futures Trust, added: “Our infrastructure experts have been working with Scottish Government and the six island local authorities to ensure the Islands Programme delivers positive outcomes for island communities.
“This funding will now be invested in much-needed community infrastructure such as a low carbon children’s nursery and a circular economy social enterprise venture, that will support repopulation, economic growth and local jobs. Our focus now is on working with the successful applicants to see their projects come to fruition and achieve what the communities need.”
Detail of Approved Projects
Argyll and Bute Council
- Island Community Halls Digital Hubs, £100,000. Coll, Iona, Islay, Tiree. Argyll and Bute Council.
This project will create four digital hubs in island community halls for a variety of uses including hybrid meetings, access for online services and NHS “Near Me” clinics. It will act as a pathfinder for other potential sites across other islands and build on experiences from the pandemic to provide inclusive digital access and a reduction in travelling time, costs and emissions.
- Tobermory Seawall and Railings Improvements, £250,000. Mull.
This project will provide critical sea front infrastructure to the community of Tobermory by adding resilience against tidal surges and helping to reduce the impact of climate change. The work will also support the sustainability of existing businesses and provide a safer and more welcoming environment.
Comhairle nan Eilean Siar
- Ionad Hiort – RIBA Stage 4 design fees, £167,000. Lewis. Comhairle nan Eilean Siar.
The Ionad Hiort/ St Kilda Centre project aims to build a £6.25m visitor centre in Uig in the Isle of Lewis. This application is for RIBA stage 4 work which will provide the necessary detailed specifications to progress to the tender stage. Ionad Hiort has been recognized by the UNESCO World Heritage Centre as a global exemplar for remote access to the hundreds of World Heritage Sites where visitor access in large numbers is either impossible or undesirable. The project aims to provide critical employment thereby supporting retention and growth in population and will contribute to re-invigorating a living Gaidhlig community.
- Community Facilities Programme – Uist, £347,781. Berneray, North Uist, Eriskay.
The Community Facilities Regeneration Programme is a series of three regeneration projects for a community hall; reconfiguring a building into a digital co-working space and safeguarding another community building prior to establishing a community hub. The programme will have significant impacts in future proofing each group’s facilities while increasing the level of service provision. The energy efficiency measures taken with incorporation of Renewable Energy solutions will lead to a dramatic reduction annually in carbon emissions across the three projects.
The Highland Council
- Old Surgery Housing Enablement, £72,000. Eigg.
This project will deliver the enabling ground works, bore hole and electricity connections in preparation for the main construction phase of two new homes in as timely a manner as possible. This project has strong links to population retention and growth, housing and will use off grid and renewable energy connections. The application is focused solely on infrastructure to “unlock” the site, comprising a new, robust water supply and establishing an electrical connection to Eigg Electric Ltd (Eigg’s Green Energy Grid).
- The Old Man of Storr, £440,000. Skye.
The ambition of the overall project is to deliver a world class experience for visitors to the Old Man of Storr that showcases Skye’s unique heritage and culture. This application is focused on the provision of a retail/visitor unit on-site and EV charging points. There are strong links with sustainability, education, and sustainable economic development in addition to increased awareness of Gaelic and local culture.
North Ayrshire Council
- Regeneration of Millport Town Hall – phase 2, £509,450. Cumbrae.
Phase 2 of a multi-funded development to use the building’s basement to provide a central community space, delivering a package of activities and attractions within a heritage building. The renovated space will provide additional operational income to sustain the project and extend options for use. The project has high levels of community involvement, partnership working and builds on previous investment. Natural light, solar panels and air source heat pumps will provide a significant amount of the building’s energy and LED lighting. New conservation standard double-glazed windows and insulation will be installed.
- Island Pit Stops, £540,000. Arran and Cumbrae.
This project seeks to manage the challenges of increased visitor numbers by re-purposing and improving existing infrastructure to encourage visitor dispersal and cope with over-visitation at key sites. It aims to increase the quality of the visitors’ experience by providing better facilities, thereby supporting increased dwell time and spend on the islands. Island toilet buildings will be redeveloped into accessible and eco designed Island Pit stops across nine locations. This project provides a replicable example of sustainable tourism.
Orkney Islands Council
- New Kirkwall Nursery, £1,500,000. Mainland Orkney.
New build nursery facility located next to Orkney College campus, to replace an existing building earmarked for demolition and which is the only current nursery facility in Orkney. The project has strong links to population retention, addressing child poverty and meeting net zero ambitions. The proposed nursery is located adjacent to Orkney College, leading to opportunities to support Childhood Practice Students as they develop their skills, therefore supporting a key sector which has had recruitment challenges. The new-build facility will save approx. 20 tonnes of CO2 in moving the nursery service from the old 1960 CLASP building to the new highly insulated building.
Shetland Islands Council
- Aald Skul Enterprise Development £88,095. Mainland Shetland.
By investing in a new portable cabin, additional access and parking, this social enterprise in a small community will be able to expand the range and volume of repaired, donated items offered for sale. This project is a strong replicable example of working towards net zero ambitions in a remote community and is a clear model of the circular economy in action. The Scrapstore strives to meet net zero ambitions through reducing travel and energy associated with disposing of goods which are still in good/repairable condition or with travelling to buy new items. This can help to reduce overall household expenses, and influence perception that the community can be an affordable place to live in comparison to other areas and centres.
- Papa Stour Kirk Development £252,505. Papa Stour. Shetland Islands Council.
This second phase of a three-phase project will help safeguard and improve the building fabric of Papa Stour Kirk, the only community facility on the island. The work will protect the building for continued use and provide a stepping stone ultimately to a new community hub and visitor centre. There are strong links to supporting NIP Strategic Objective 10 empowered local communities and incorporates net zero ambitions.