McArthur repeats calls for Islands Bond rethink

29 Jun 2022

Orkney's MSP, Liam McArthur, has reiterated concerns over the proposed Islands Bond scheme concept and argued for the funding to be targeted at improving transport links.

Speaking during an exchange with the Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and Islands, Mairi Gougeon, in Parliament this afternoon (Wednesday), Mr McArthur repeated his support for a third aircraft on Orkney's internal routes as an example of how funding earmarked to the Islands Bond scheme could better deliver its objectives of attracting and retaining population in island communities.

The Cabinet Secretary confirmed that the government would act on the feedback to its public consultation and that further details on any future scheme will be published later this summer.

Orkney's MSP has repeatedly warned that the scheme as originally proposed, awarding up to £50,000 to families wishing to move to or remain in the islands, would fail to tackle the root causes of depopulation or make island communities more resilient.

Commenting afterwards, Mr McArthur said:

"It's increasingly clear that there is little if any support within our island communities for the proposed Islands Bond scheme.

"However, I welcome the steps taken by the Minister to consult and her assurance that she is listening. This will have given islanders an opportunity to get across the message about how this funding might best be used to increase the resilience needed to support island populations.

"One option would be to combine this with other available government funding to support the introduction of a third aircraft on Orkney’s internal air routes. This has the potential to benefit whole island communities, through improved transport links, better connectivity and enhanced job opportunities.

"I detect a willingness by the Minister to think again. If that is the case, I am sure that the funding can be used in ways than genuinely help deliver some of the original objectives of the scheme."