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17 March 2021

HES welcomes growth deal for Orkney, Shetland and the Outer Hebrides

HES has welcomed investment in the future economic prosperity of Scotland’s Island communities as representatives of the UK and Scottish governments today (Wednesday 17 March) joined Leaders of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, Orkney Islands Council, and Shetland Island Council to sign the Heads of Terms for the Islands Growth Deal.

General view of Skara Brae

The agreement commits both governments to work collaboratively with Islands Deal partners – including HES - to deliver a deal focused on placing the islands at the forefront of the transition to net zero; supporting growth in key sectors of opportunity such as tourism, food and drink, space and creative industries; and supporting thriving, sustainable communities.

HES operates a number of sites in the islands and is a partner in the Orkney World Heritage Site Gateway programme, which alongside Orkney Islands Council and Highlands and Islands Enterprise was set up to look at the infrastructure of tourism in the Orkney islands and opportunities for further collaboration, supporting communities and contributing to areas such as green recovery.

The Islands Growth Deal will capitalise on the Islands unique assets with an investment of £50 million each from the Scottish and UK Governments and a further £235 million from project partners. The 10-year programme of investment has the ambitious target of creating up to 1,300 jobs and tackling the depopulation concerns facing many parts of the 3 island archipelagos. Partners will now be working towards the development of full business cases for approval by both Governments, with the anticipation of funding being approved and released from 2022/23 onwards.

HES Director of Development and Partnerships, Alison Turnbull said:

“Historic Environment Scotland looks after a range of heritage assets and visitor attractions across Scotland’s Islands. We look forward to continuing to contribute to the success of the Islands economic and sustainable growth, through our existing and developing partnerships which will deliver projects in support of the Deal.

Scotland’s island communities are unique and special places and we very much welcome this investment from both Scottish and UK Government’s in their futures, enabling and supporting further economic opportunities as well as supporting their future as strong, sustainable communities.”

The £335 million investment will be shared across the following projects.

Leading the way to a low carbon future

  • Islands Centre for Net Zero
  • Scapa Flow Future Fuels Hub Project
  • Outer Hebrides Energy Hub
  • Shetland Clean Energy Project (inc in ICNZ)
  • Dales Voe Ultra Deep-Water Port

Supporting Growth and Future Industries

  • Creative Islands Wellbeing
  • Outer Hebrides Destination Development
  • Orkney World Heritage Gateway
  • Orkney Community Vertical Farm
  • Shell-Volution
  • Outer Hebrides Food and Drink Programme
  • Shetland Space Innovation Campus
  • Spaceport1

Thriving Sustainable Communities

  • TalEntEd Islands programme
  • Orkney Research and Innovation Campus
  • Shetland Campus Redevelopment
  • Outer Hebrides Campus Redevelopment
  • Knab Redevelopment

About Year of Coasts and Waters 2021

The Year of Coasts and Waters (#YCW2021), led by VisitScotland, will be showcased throughout 2021. Activities and ideas will shine a spotlight on the impact our waters have had on Scotland, from the formation of beautiful natural features to the creation of our national drink - whisky.

About Historic Environment Scotland (HES) 

  • We are the lead public body charged with caring for, protecting and promoting the historic environment. We will lead on delivering Scotland’s first strategy for the historic environment, Our Place in Time.
  • Historic Scotland, Scran, Canmore, The National Collection of Aerial Photography (NCAP), The Engine Shed, Stirling Castle and Edinburgh Castle are sub-brands of HES.
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For further information, please contact:

Barry McPherson
Historic Environment Scotland Media Office
Mobile: 07221 959 962