Islands Forum to level up island communities and further work together on shared opportunities and challenges

The Isle of Wight has been chosen as the location for the second Islands Forum, which will take place on 24th – 25th May and be chaired by Secretary of State Michael Gove.

The Islands Forum will help to level up island communities by encouraging collaboration to tackle common challenges such as connectivity, infrastructure, and demographic trends, and explore opportunities including the transition to net zero. It will also allow the UK government to hear and learn from island communities to inform future policy.

The UK government has invited eligible council leaders and chief executives of island communities in all parts of the UK to take part in the second Forum. The devolved administrations will also have a key role, with ministers from the Scottish and Welsh governments invited and the Permanent Secretary of the Department for Infrastructure in Northern Ireland.

The first Islands Forum took place on the Orkney Islands in September last year.

Secretary of State for Levelling Up Michael Gove MP said:

Island communities contribute richly to the UK and share their own unique set of challenges as well as opportunities.

The Islands Forum creates a space for islanders to work together and give feedback directly to the Government, ensuring that islands can be even better places for people to work and live.

I am delighted that the inaugural forum in Orkney was a success and look forward to meeting with islands representatives in May, at the next forum on the Isle of Wight.

Council leader, Councillor Lora Peacey-Wilcox, said:

The Islands Forum is a superb opportunity to establish the challenges for our islands, and continue our engagement with government ministers and civil servants to find the right steps to address our issues.

Several projects in island communities are set to benefit from cash injections through levelling up funds. This includes:

  • Nearly £27 million has been guaranteed for a new roll-on, roll-off ferry for Fair Isle in the Shetland Islands. The service is a lifeline for the island, supporting its residents, visitors and supply chains, and without its replacement the community will become further isolated.
  • £5.8 million for East Cowes Marine Hub project on the Isle of Wight, which sits within the proposed Solent Freeport zone. The funding will futureproof the marine engineering hub, creating jobs and boosting productivity.
  • Anglesey has seen a boost of £2.7 million through the UK Community Renewal Fund for 6 projects including schemes to develop youth enterprise and provide high quality Health and Social Care education. Anglesey is also set to establish a new freeport, aiming to attract £1.4 billion worth of investment in the green energy sector and create at least 3,500 jobs.
  • £173,400 to Argyll and Bute Council for investment into the West Coast UAV Innovation Logistics and training hub, which helps explore using drones to transport medical supplies to islands.
  • The Comhairle Nan Eilean Siar was awarded more than £166,000 to fund projects for the Port of Ness Harbour and Horshader Community Asset Development.

Further information

Invitations have been sent to representatives from the following islands:

Nation Member Island(s)
England Isle of Wight Council Isle of Wight
England Council of the Isles of Scilly Isles of Scilly
Scotland Highland Council Skye, Rum, Raasay, Eigg, Muck, Canna, Sanday
Scotland North Ayrshire Council Arran, Great Cumbrae
Scotland Argyll & Bute Council Bute, Islay, Mull, Coll; Colonsay; Danna; Easdale; Eilean da Mheinn; Erraid; Gigha; Gometra; Inchtavannach; Innischonan; Iona; Jura; Kerrera; Lismore; Luing; Oronsay; Seil; Shuna (Luing); Tiree; Ulva
Scotland Comhairle nan Eilean Siar Western Isles
Scotland Orkney Islands Council Orkney Islands
Scotland Shetland Islands Council Shetland Islands
Wales Isle of Anglesey County Council Anglesey
Northern Ireland Rathlin Development & Community Association, NI Department for Infrastructure Rathlin Island
Published 24 April 2023