The new chairman of the comhairle’s sustainable development committee has highlighted
four key priorities for this council term.
Donald Crichton said the islands’ “challenging” population and demographics statistics
is one of the main long-term issue.
He said: “In my view we need to look towards establishing a dedicated inter-departmental
/ community planning partnership team focused on population sustainability issues.”
This panel should focus on attracting new talent to the area, marketing the islands
as business-friendly, help women set up businesses as well as building policy around
the aspirations of our young people.
Four key economic priorities for the Western Isles
22 May 2017
Crucial to that is the successful rollout of superfast broadband so that businesses
can prosper and grow, he added.
Chasing up oil and gas decommissioning work is also an opportunity as is the potential
to set up a UK spaceport.
His second focus is over the looming prospect of Brexit and the need for a strategy
to attract new regional development funding to substitute for lost EU income.
Mr Crithcon said this is “essential” for the future of the crofting and fisheries.
He added: “We need to make a robust case to UK and Scottish Government’s about the
specific requirements of the Outer Hebrides and the need to replace lost European
Renewables is an “important economic opportunity” so the counil needs to “redouble”
its efforts in lobbying the next UK government and regulator Ofgem for a Minch inter-connector.
Local community renewable energy projects are “integral” to islands’ overarching
renewables strategy, he stressed.
His fourth priority is for economic development in each island locality.
Mr Crichton said: “I would like to see the remit of the Uist Economic Taskforce strengthened
so it is more sharply focused and has a more campaigning purpose.
“The plans for Stornoway regeneration are also important and will be a priority.
“We need to put in place appropriate strategies and plans for all our localities.”
He feels there are many “positive economic opportunities” offering optimism
“We have a vibrant arts and heritage sector, a strong creative industries sector
and a growing tourism industry.
“There have been community buyouts with the potential of revitalising our communities.
In all those areas this committee has been supportive and made a major contribution.”