Islands Growth Deal Signed



Orkney, Hoy coastal view

The Islands Growth deal signed for Orkney, Shetland and the Outer Hebrides will release total investment of £393 million.

An agreement to invest £100 million in the future economic prosperity of Orkney, Shetland and the Outer Hebrides was signed today (20 January) in Orkney by UK and Scottish Government Ministers and the Council Leaders of the three island groups. 

Up to 1,300 jobs and £393 million of investment is anticipated to result from the signing of the transformative Islands Growth Deal between UK Government, Scottish Government, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, Shetland Islands Council, and Orkney Islands Council.

Over a ten-year period, the Islands Growth Deal will invest in 16 projects and programmes that capitalise on the Islands’ unique assets. These are built around three strategic themes of low carbon, supporting growth and future industries, and thriving sustainable communities, subject to approval of Full Business Cases.

Jointly funded by up to £100 million - £50 million from each of the Scottish and UK Governments - the Islands Growth Deal will attract further investment of up to £293 million in match funding. 

The Deal has been developed by the three island Councils, together with public, academic, business, community and third sector partners.

The first year of the ten-year programme is anticipated to see investment across the islands, including in UHI’s campuses in Shetland and the Outer Hebrides, and the pan-island Islands Centre for Net Zero (ICNZ), which will be based at the Orkney Research and Innovation Campus in Stromness. 

ICNZ is being led by the Orkney-based European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) working alongside Heriot-Watt University with a range of local partners.

The signing of the Islands Growth Deal means we can make rapid progress with some really exciting projects... and build on the ground-breaking research already underway

Prof. Gill Murray

Professor Gill Murray, Deputy Principal for Business and Enterprise, said: “The signing of the Islands Growth Deal means we can make rapid progress with some really exciting projects. Our leading academics, based in Orkney, will work with EMEC to help address the islands’ demographic challenges and build on the ground-breaking research already underway in renewables and smart energy systems.

“Heriot-Watt will also play an important role in TalEntEd, connecting businesses with researcher institutions to develop a pipeline of talented individuals and start-ups, driving Net-Zero innovation to market, creating green jobs and opportunities.”

Following the signing within Orkney Islands Council’s chamber, UK Government Minister for Scotland Malcolm Offord said: "This will not just boost local economies and create jobs, but also empower communities to get the most out of the many assets and attributes that make the islands such unique and special places to live. 

"This deal is packed with a broad range of high-impact projects, whether it's leading the transition to net zero or developing ‘must-visit’ destinations such as the St Kilda trail.

"The UK Government’s £50m support for the Islands deal, in addition to other levelling up investments, shows our continued commitment to the Scottish Islands.

"Scottish Government Business Minister Ivan McKee said: “This Growth Deal will be a game-changing initiative for our islands – enabling sustainable economic growth and delivering new and internationally significant port infrastructure that will play an important role in achieving net zero targets. 

“This £50 million Scottish Government investment will support the transition to renewable energy sources – including equipping the workforce with new skills – and trial emissions reduction initiatives on islands. It will drive innovation in key space, food and drink and creative industries sectors; help develop significant tourism and cultural attractions and expand education provision. 

“We are determined that our islands should be attractive places to live and work and are able to maximise their contribution to Scotland’s sustainable economic transformation.”    

Find out more on the Our Islands Our Deal video on this link.


Fiona Duff