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New group to consider transport links agreed at Islands Forum

At the third Islands Forum, held in the Western Isles at Lews Castle on Tuesday 10 October, representatives from eligible islands across the UK joined the Levelling Up Secretary and devolved government ministers to discuss physical and digital connectivity.

Recognising the importance of infrastructure investment and reliable services to enable islands to increase tourism, trade and support jobs, the Levelling Up Secretary proposed a new ‘task and finish’ group of representatives from UK and devolved governments and member councils, to look at island transport connections.  

Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove said:

“Islands have so much to offer, and through the Islands Forum the UK Government is helping them get the most out of their potential.

 “It’s now time to make real progress on improving connectivity and that’s why we have established a new group to take this work forward.

“We need to make sure we have a long term strategy for our islands as part of our work to level up all parts of the United Kingdom.”

The forum also agreed further work will be carried out to improve digital connectivity, supporting the ongoing work by Building Digital UK in partnership with the Scottish and Welsh Governments.

UK government ministers attended alongside ministers from the devolved governments and a senior official from the Northern Ireland Civil Service, and were joined by council leaders and representatives from:

  • Comhairle nan Eilean Siar / Western Isles Council
  • Orkney Islands Council
  • Shetland Islands Council
  • Highland Council
  • North Ayrshire Council
  • Argyll & Bute Council
  • Isle of Wight Council
  • Isles of Scilly Council
  • Ynys Môn/Isle of Anglesey County Council
  • Rathlin Development & Community Association

Attendees also had the opportunity to engage with the UK Infrastructure Bank on the financial and advisory services they offer local authorities, and to attend networking sessions to deepen links. They also visited Stornoway’s deep-water terminal and Harland & Wollf’s Arnish site, to understand their significance for key island sectors, including manufacturing, renewable energy, and tourism.  

The next Islands Forum in Spring 2024 will be held in Anglesey, hosted by Ynys Môn/Isle of Anglesey County Council.

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