Nicola Sturgeon has said a Yes vote is the only way to deliver real powers to Scotland’s islands and ensure our island communities can use their vast natural wealth to grow the local economy.
Ms Sturgeon will today begin a series of campaigning visits to the islands that will see her answer questions from floating voters on the crossing from Aberdeen to Lerwick, before spending the day campaigning on Shetland. Ms Sturgeon will then, on Thursday, travel to Orkney to take part in public meetings before visiting the Western Isles next week.
The Deputy First Minister’s visit follows the failure of the UK Government to offer any additional powers for Scotland’s islands. With a no vote meaning islands revenues will continue to go to Westminster, a Yes vote will secure 100% of all revenues from the seabed around Scotland’s island communities for the islands themselves, along with a legal duty on future governments to island proof all legislation.
At the heart of the proposals from the Scottish Government are:
• 100% of the revenues from the seabed surrounding the islands will go direct to island communities
• A minister for Scotland’s islands and “island proofing” of all legislation
• Extending Enterprise zones and supporting Island Innovation zones to capitalise on opportunities for jobs and investment
• Improved connectivity for energy transmission, broadband, postal services and transport
• A role for the islands in developing Scotland’s constitution
Speaking ahead of her trip Ms Sturgeon said:
“I want to ensure every part of Scotland is part of this debate on Scotland’s future.
“People on Scotland’s islands are waking up to the opportunity a Yes vote will bring to invigorate island economies, to increase local control, to support young people to stay on our islands if they want to and to ensure that our islands benefit from the enormous wealth around them.
“We have set out a whole range of opportunities that will be available to the islands with independence – including 100% of the revenues from the seabed around the islands, money which it will be for the islands themselves to choose how they spend.
“Where people in Scotland recognise the difference that money can make to islands in the future as offshore wave and tidal energy develops, the Westminster parties are determined to hang on to that money in the Treasury.
“And we propose an Islands bill to implement new responsibilities on parliament to take account of island needs, a minister for the islands, and to give island communities a greater say in developing local industries like fishing and farming and capturing the energy potential on land and offshore.
“As the First Minister set out in the Lerwick declaration just as we believe the people of Scotland are the best people to make decisions about Scotland, so communities on our islands should have the opportunity to make decisions about what happens there. That is the essence of self-determination and the huge opportunity that comes with independence.”