Investing in Scotland's islands

Funding to support local economies and communities.

Projects designed to stimulate economic activity, boost tourism and improve community assets on Scotland’s islands will share £4.1 million in the latest round of funding from the Islands Programme.

A total of 13 initiatives will benefit from the funding include the a community recycling hub on Shetland, the construction of new accommodation for workers in Mull and the development of a new bike park on the Isle of Arran. Over £700,000 has also be used to help preserve the 18th Century Garrison House complex in Millport, Great Cumbrae.

Islands Secretary Mairi Gougeon announced the news whilst attending a conference on sustainable islands in Shetland – part of a two-day visit to the region where Ms Gougeon will be meeting with local businesses and communities.

Ms Gougeon said:  

“I recognise the continued resilience shown by Islanders in response to the climate and cost of living crises but I am mindful that ongoing support is needed in order to ensure the long term sustainability of our island communities.

“This new funding displays our commitment to enact our National Islands Plan across all six island authorities in Scotland in order to tackle island depopulation, boost local economies and bolster tourism.

“Whilst here on Shetland I am happy to announce almost £800,000 of funding for Shetland Islands Council to support a community growing space, the expansion of the Shetland Home Project and the renovation of a building to provide an inspirational hub for arts and health.

“I look forward to seeing the positive impact that the projects will have in their respective communities.”

Neil Rutherford, Senior Associate Director, Scottish Futures Trust said:

 “Our infrastructure experts have worked closely with Scottish Government and the island local authorities to ensure the Islands Programme continues to deliver positive outcomes for island communities.

“The awards further support equality of opportunity, and community social enterprise ventures that will support repopulation, economic growth and local jobs, and we’re looking forward to continuing to work with the community project teams to see their visions move into reality and achieve what the communities need most.”

Shetland Islands Council Leader Emma MacDonald said:

“I am delighted with this investment in Shetland from the Scottish Government’s Islands Programme.

“The projects which we put forward for consideration were developed and driven by local communities, and address vital issues for our future such as employment support for vulnerable people, regeneration of community assets, food security, and addressing climate change through the circular economy.

“This news will be an incredible boost for these groups and we can’t wait to see the projects in action.”

North Ayrshire Council Leader Marie Burns said:

“We’re absolutely delighted to receive funding for two projects of major significance on the islands of Cumbrae and Arran.

“This will secure the future of the historic Garrison House in Millport, allowing it to be enjoyed by future generations. We’ll work closely with Cumbrae Community Development Company to deliver the much-needed conservation work and improvements.

“And we are also thrilled to accept funding which will support the creation of an accessible, all-weather bike park at Dyemill on Arran. This will help make Arran High School Mountain Bike Club’s vision for the park a reality and make a major contribution to encouraging residents to engage in cycling activities.

“The support for these two projects through the Scottish Government’s Islands Programme is most welcome.  It will contribute to the delivery of our ambitious Island Plans and have a real and lasting impact for both island communities.”


The 2023/24 Islands Programme (IP) was launched on 31 January 2023, with an application deadline of 21 April 2023.  It is being delivered in partnership with local government via a competitive bid process with the six island Local Authorities as lead applicants.

Applications to the IP have been subject to scrutiny and assessment by the Islands Programme Investment Panel which has made recommendations on projects to be funded.  The panel is selected from Scottish Government and a range of partner organisations who have experience of panel assessments and infrastructure spending.

Details of approved projects 

£298,900 - Canna Hub, Canna - Highland Council

This project will redevelop a former coal store beside Canna pier to create a reception hub and accessible facilities to support the sustainable growth of the island’s economy. The building will help support the increasing number of visitors that form a major part of the island’s economy. The building will also act as a consultation and treatment room for use by NHS health workers so that residents can attend appointments in private.

£700,000 - Infrastructure for Worker Accommodation -  Mull, Argyll and Bute Council 

This application is for phase one site infrastructure to enable delivery of accommodation for workers and will meet clearly evidenced community need for worker accommodation with essential positions currently being left unfilled. The project makes a significant contribution in delivering on the place-based priorities of the Isle of Mull community to meet housing need, that will in turn accelerate local growth and resilience.

£75,202 - Growing Space Nesting Shetland Mainland -  Shetland Islands Council

 This project, run by Community Development Company Nesting, aims to transition a section of its vacant land into a community growing space and park for skills building, food growing and volunteering. It will address the identified local demand for a community growing space and increase regular access to affordable, fresh produce, featuring options for shared, publicly accessible outdoor and undercover growing to allow the production of fruit and vegetables. Based on local priority, Growing Space focusses on increasing community empowerment and resilience, promotes sustainable socio economic and environmental growth in Shetland, and is an example of working to achieve the Scottish Government’s Net Zero Ambitions.

£450,000 - Tiree Community Care Hub  - Tiree, Argyll and Bute Council

 This project centres on the modernisation and reconfiguration of the Tigh a Rudha care home. It acts as a catalyst to better meet the current and anticipated future care needs of the island community and will support Tiree’s population retention and growth plans. Tigh a Rudha, a critical part of the island community and currently providing essential care and support to elderly residents, will be transformed into a modern and flexible Community Care Hub which will also provide onsite key worker accommodation, and intermediate, end of life and respite care facilities and GP beds.

£730,998 - Garrison House Regeneration Scheme, Cumbrae - North Ayrshire Council

The Garrison House Regeneration Scheme seeks to restore, re-purpose and enhance the Garrison House complex in Millport, Isle of Cumbrae. Garrison House is a significant asset to the island and an important hub for both residents and visitors. The project will secure the building fabric for future generations, improve accessibility, improve the availability of and access to services, and increase its energy efficiency and resilience to climate change. Work will include a comprehensive conservation scheme, a new gym accessible to all and provision of a changing places facility to address the lack of both on the island.

£220,625 - Dyemill Bike Park, Arran - North Ayrshire Council

Arran High School Mountain Bike Club propose to build, manage, and maintain an accessible, inclusive, and safe, all-weather environment to grow and develop the Island’s cycling community, inspiring Arran to cycle.  The facility will provide the opportunity for residents and visitors to engage in cycling in many forms.  With this new facility the Island’s cycling community will benefit from being able to grow and develop local competition and event opportunities in addition to providing a safe and accessible area for coaching and skills development.

£695,000 - COPE Ltd – Shetland Home Co Expansion Project, Mainland Shetland -  Shetland Islands Council

This project is designed to grow the reach and impact of COPE’s Shetland Home Co, a re-use centre that sells furniture, electrical goods, and homeware among other items. The participants who work at the Shetland Home Co are breaking down barriers and stigmatisation and show that people with a learning disability can sustain employment. Electrical goods that cannot be sold are processed and stripped down to components for recycling. The project will support the circular economy, Scotland’s Net Zero ambitions and positively impact on individuals with learning disabilities - one of the most disadvantaged groups in the labour market.

£71,005  - Hymhus, The Bigton Regeneration Hub Phase 1, Mainland Shetland. Shetland Islands Council

This application is for Phase 1 of the renovation of Hymhus to provide an inspirational hub for arts and health. The measures will improve sustainability and meantime use, allow for a more flexible renovation plan and a continued income stream for a key community asset which provides a warm space, works to address social isolation and hosts therapeutic services. It will secure the future of the community asset, and ensure the longer-term sustainability of the building.

£250,000 - Stornoway Campus, Lewis - Comhairle nan Eilean Siar

The planned works are to redevelop UHI Outer Hebrides to enhance the high-quality learning and training facilities and enable innovative approaches to digital and distance learning. This will involve transforming Stornoway campus to increase the attractiveness of the campus and, through the integration of new technologies, enable a greater degree of outreach to more remote learners and island businesses. A range of mobile facilities and equipment will further support equality of opportunity and enable outreach capability in Uist and Barra. The Islands Programme funding will support Mobile Equipment and Facilities and Immersive Classroom Technology.

£382,307 - Acarsaid Harbour Development Eriskay and South Uist - Comhairle nan Eilean Siar

This application is to enhance the currently constrained harbour facility at the local authority owned pier at Acarsaid on the East coast of Eriskay, by introducing an enlarged concrete deck pier (extending the life of the facility by 50 years) and extending the in-demand pontoon. This will improve vessel unloading, address berthing demand and will minimise idling times for unloading and steaming time to more distant berths, reducing fuel consumption and emissions. Improved berthing will encourage additional employment, provide vessel space for shellfish landings to local processors and help develop local, national, and international markets for the highest quality seafood produce.

£200,000 - Kirkwall Bridge Street Development  - Mainland Orkney, Orkney Islands Council

The focus of this application is a rapid first phase to establish new activity within The Bridge Street Development Project in Kirkwall which occupies a prime location in one of the most historic parts of the town but is vacant brownfield site with derelict warehouse buildings. The project responds to the urgent pressures and risks of decline, ensuring that Kirkwall town centre does not fall into a self-perpetuating state of decline.  Plans are to create a reusable steel framed multioccupancy food and drink hospitality and leisure business environment. With an estimated project cost of £4,650,000 the Phase One Project represents a significant investment in the regeneration of Kirkwall's town centre.

£78,350  - An Taigh Mor, Lewis -  Comhairle nan Eilean Siar

This application is to progress the design of An Taigh Mòr, a Grade 2 listed building, to RIBA 4 and building warrant stages, planning interpretation in detail and for preparing tender documents to renovate, extend and fit out the building for future use. The preservation and redevelopment work will ultimately enable the local community to deliver the project aims of successfully interpreting its links to the Flannan Isles, providing space for community use of a size and nature not available elsewhere locally and increase opportunities for the community to engage with its history, language, and culture in an appropriate setting. Focussing on community needs as well as visitor demand, the provision of rural facilities for heritage and wellbeing activities will increase employment opportunities and participation in community projects.

£55,000 - Seallam! Hebrides People Visitor Centre, Harris -  Comhairle nan Eilean Siar

This application is to complete RIBA Stage 3 and 4 work to enable the refurbishment and extension of the existing facilities at the Seallam! Hebrides People Visitor Centre to be upgraded to provide a much-needed quality attraction in South Harris, which is community owned and run. The facility is already creating and sustaining local jobs, building partnerships across islands and once complete will kick start the economic regeneration of Northton township, creating transformational and critical infrastructure for South Harris.


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