Island communities across the UK have been invited to the first Islands Forum meeting in September.
The Islands Forum will help to level up island communities by encouraging collaboration to tackle common challenges such as connectivity, infrastructure, demographic trends and explore opportunities including the transition to net zero. It will also allow the UK Government to hear and learn from island communities to inform future policy.
Orkney has been chosen as the location for the first Islands Forum, which will be chaired by Secretary of State Michael Gove.
The UK Government has invited council leaders and chief executives of island communities in all parts of the UK to take part in the first Forum. The devolved administrations will also have a key role, with Ministers from the Scottish and Welsh Governments and the Northern Ireland Executive invited.
Secretary of State for Levelling Up Michael Gove MP said:
“Island communities contribute a huge amount to the UK and often face common challenges. Our new Islands Forum will bring communities together and give our islands a stronger voice.
“Whether it is the requirement for better transport connectivity or opportunities for economic development, I want to hear directly from island communities across the UK what they need to unlock their full potential.
“The UK Government’s goal is to unite and level up our whole United Kingdom, from Shetland to the Scillies. This new forum will make sure that our islands are placed right at the heart of our levelling up mission.”
Several projects in island communities are set to benefit from cash injections through levelling up funds. This includes:
- £48.4 million for the Isles of Scilly to upgrade sea links between the islands and the mainland, including replacing the ferries and delivering harbour improvements, and £440,000 through the UK Community Renewal Fund for their new museum and cultural centre.
- £5.8 million for East Cowes Marine Hub project in the Isle of Wight, which sits within the proposed Solent Freeport zone. The funding will futureproof the marine engineering hub, creating jobs and boosting productivity.
- Anglesey has seen a boost of £2.7 million through the UK Community Renewal Fund for six projects including schemes to develop youth enterprise and provide high quality Health and Social Care education.
- £173,400 to Argyll and Bute Council for investment into the West Coast UAV Innovation Logistics and training hub, which helps explore using drones to transport medical supplies to islands.
- The Western Isles was awarded more than £166,000 to fund projects for the Port of Ness Harbour and Horshader Community Asset Development.