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Six islands announced for Holyrood’s carbon neutral project

Islay is amongst the six islands named as part of the carbon neutral project (Danny Lawson/PA)
Islay is amongst the six islands named as part of the carbon neutral project (Danny Lawson/PA)

The Scottish Government has named the six islands set to take part in a project aiming to turn them carbon neutral by 2040.

Hoy, Islay, Great Cumbrae, Raasay, Barra and Yell have been selected for Holyrood’s Carbon Neutral Islands programme, Islands Secretary Mairi Gougeon announced on Tuesday.

The project will see the Scottish Government lending its support towards each island’s journey towards achieving carbon neutrality, with individual plans to be developed in collaboration with key partners and the communities involved.

The move will align with the country’s work towards net zero, and will contribute to the Government’s 2045 net zero commitment.

The Government said other Scottish islands will be able to benefit from shared learning during the programme.

Castlebay, Isle of Barra
The Isle of Barra will receive support from the Scottish Government in a bid to become carbon neutral (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Ms Gougeon said: “Scotland is at the forefront of climate change mitigation and adaptation at the global level, and I’ve always believed that our islands will contribute significantly to the country’s net zero commitment.

“I was pleased to announce at Cop26 that we are taking this ambition further than the original commitment, now aiming to support six islands in their journey towards carbon neutrality by 2040.

“This project is another testament to Scottish islands being in the vanguard of innovation, leading the way in the journey to net zero while supporting other areas across Scotland.”

Ms Gougeon told MSPs that the selection allows direct support to be given to one island in each of the local authority areas with responsibility for islands in Scotland.

Rachael Hamilton from the Scottish Tories welcomed the announcement, but added her party felt islanders had “been ignored, misunderstood and forgotten about” by the Government.

Mairi Gougeon
Islands Secretary Mairi Gougeon announced the line-up of the six islands (Andrew Milligan/PA)

The MSP for Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire suggested the Scottish Government was “putting the cart before the horse” in announcing the scheme amid problems such as ferry networks and depopulation.

Ms Gougeon challenged the claims, highlighting support from Holyrood such as the Croft House Grant and the Crofting Agricultural Grant Scheme.

Scottish Tory MSP Jamie Greene said while islanders should be supported in a move towards net zero, a focus on the “day-to-day struggles” already being faced is also required.

Mr Greene, referencing controversy arising from the ferries scandal, said the procurement of ferries was the “single most important issue” for people living on Scotland’s islands.

He highlighted losses faced as a result of the Isle of Arran ferry being out of service as an example of issues impacting upon residents.

“I think some dignity and contrition in how we approach that will be needed,” he told the chamber.

“Of course, net zero is something islanders are passionate about,” he said, “but we also must be getting the basics, the absolute basics, of public services right before they can make that transition”.