Renewable energy could create up to 10,000 jobs on Scottish Isles

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The remote windswept world of Scotland’s outlying islands makes them absolutely perfect to host renewable energy projects. And it seems that those projects could see a huge influx of employment to the craggy islands, bringing in up to 10,000 jobs, according to a government-commissioned study.

Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles would benefit from wind, wave and tidal schemes, the Scottish Islands Renewable Project final report said.

Before anyone starts renting accommodation on Shetland in eager anticipation, it must be stressed that the plans are very much at an exploratory stage and jobs may not come on stream for several years.

The report also flagged up certain problems with any nascent scheme like high transmission costs and the delayed laying of a subsea cable

By 2020, 392 full-time jobs could be created on the Western Isles, 463 in Shetland, 416 in Orkney and 3,000 across the rest of the UK.

The report said that by 2030 the job numbers on the islands could increase to more than 3,500 on the Western Isles, almost 2,900 in Shetland, and more than 4,500 on Orkney.

Other jobs would also be created in other parts of the UK as the indirect effects of the new, renewable hub on the islands filtered through the grids.

The population of the islands has been steadily declining for the last century, falling by 43% and the report flagged up possible benefits to the island such as repopulation, rising wages and a decline in fuel poverty, which currently stands at 58%.

Angus Campbell, leader of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar (Western Isles Council), described the report as an "excellent piece of work" which underlined the local authority's position on renewable energy of the past 10 years.

He said: "The report clearly demonstrates that the onshore renewables sector offers the Outer Hebrides potential for significant new economic development.

"It demonstrates that the Outer Hebrides has an opportunity to make an important contribution to Scottish and UK renewables and decarbonisation targets and importantly it shows that island wind is competitive with other low-carbon technologies."

Mr Campbell added: "The report also confirms what the comhairle has been warning about repeatedly over the years - that there are significant challenges for the Scottish islands, particularly the barriers around transmission charges and grid access."

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