Eigg housing empowerment project receives share of island infrastructure funding

Preparation work to deliver new homes on the Isle of Eigg is one of 11 projects to receive a share of £4.45million to help critical island projects on climate change, conservation of population and tourism.

Six island local governments, with projects spread across 31 islands, have received funding for the current fiscal year under the Islands Programme.

The Old Surgery Housing Enablement project on Eigg has been awarded £72,000 to deliver the earthworks, borehole and electrical connections for the main construction phase of two new homes as soon as possible.

This project has strong links to population retention and growth, housing and will use off-grid connections and renewable energy. The application focuses solely on the infrastructure to ‘unlock’ the site, including a new robust water supply and establishing a power connection to Eigg Electric Ltd (Eigg’s green energy network).

Other projects include a new visitor center and electric vehicle charging stations in Old Man of Storr, nine Island Pit Stops in Arran and Cumbrae providing better visitor facilities, a new nursery in Kirkwall to replace an existing building slated for demolition and improvement of waterfront infrastructure in Tobermory.

Announcing the funding during her visit to Orkney, Islands Secretary Mairi Gougeon said: “This is a significant investment, particularly given the impact of the cost of living crisis and climate change which are of concern especially our islands. This investment will go some way to supporting our island communities.

“I am happy to be here in Orkney, to announce the award of £1.5million to the Orkney Islands Council for a brand new nursery. The new crèche will support families in mainland Orkney and the Outer Islands, while providing opportunities for Orkney College Childhood Practice students.

“I wish the best to all successful projects and look forward to following their progress.”

Scottish Futures Trust provides support and feedback for projects. The funding is part of the Islands Scheme, which supports the implementation of the National Islands Plan 2019, helping to make Scotland’s islands even better places to live, study, work and raise a family.

Councilor Gwenda Shearer, Chair of Orkney Islands Council’s Education, Leisure and Housing Committee, said: “The allocation of funds for the new crèche is great news. The stated purpose of the fund is to improve the quality of life in our island regions – and improving access to childcare services for our local families really ticks that box.

“The new facility will make a huge difference locally and we look forward to moving the project forward.”

Tony Rose, Chief Strategy Officer, Scottish Futures Trust, added: “Our infrastructure experts have worked with the Scottish Government and the six island local authorities to ensure the Islands Program delivers positive results for island communities.

“This funding will now be invested in much-needed community infrastructure, such as a low-carbon childcare center and a circular economy social enterprise, which will support repopulation, economic growth and local jobs. Our goal now is to work with successful applicants to see their projects come to fruition and achieve what communities need.

Details of other approved projects

Argyll and Bute Council

  • Island Community Halls Digital Hubs, £100,000. Coll, Iona, Islay, Tiree. Argyll and Bute Council.

This project will create four digital hubs in community rooms across the island for a variety of uses, including hybrid meetings, access to online services and NHS “Near Me” clinics. It will serve as a guide for other potential sites in other islands and build on experiences from the pandemic to provide inclusive digital access and reduced travel time, costs and emissions.

  • Improvements to Tobermory Seawall and Railings, £250,000. Reflect.

This project will provide essential waterfront infrastructure to the community of Tobermory by adding resilience against tidal surges and helping to reduce the impact of climate change. The works will also support the sustainability of existing businesses and provide a safer and more welcoming environment.

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar

  • Ionad Hiort – RIBA Stage 4 design fee, £167,000. Lewis. Comhairle nan Eilean Siar.

The Ionad Hiort/St Kilda Center project aims to build a £6.25million visitor center in Uig, Isle of Lewis. This application is for RIBA Stage 4 work which will provide the detailed specifications needed to advance to the tender stage. Ionad Hiort has been recognized by the UNESCO World Heritage Center as a global example of remote access to the hundreds of World Heritage sites where access by large numbers of visitors is either impossible or undesirable. The project aims to provide essential jobs, thereby supporting population retention and growth and will help reinvigorate a vibrant Gaidhlig community.

  • Community Facilities Program – Uist, £347,781. Berneray, North Uist, Eriskay.

The Community Facilities Regeneration Program is a series of three community hall regeneration projects; reconfigure a building into a digital coworking space and protect another community building before establishing a community hub. The program will have significant impacts on the sustainability of each group’s facilities while increasing the level of service delivery. The energy efficiency measures taken with the incorporation of renewable energy solutions will lead to a dramatic annual reduction in carbon emissions in the three projects.

The Highland Council

  • The Old Man of Storr, £440,000. Skye.

The ambition of the overall project is to provide a world-class experience for visitors to the Old Man of Storr that showcases Skye’s unique heritage and culture. This application is focused on providing an on-site retail/visitor unit and electric vehicle charging stations. There are strong links to sustainability, education and sustainable economic development in addition to increased awareness of Gaelic and local culture.

North Ayrshire Council

  • Millport Town Hall Regeneration – Phase 2, £509,450. Cumbrae.

Phase 2 of a multi-funded development will use the basement of the building to provide a central community space, offering a collection of activities and attractions in a heritage building. The renovated space will provide additional operational revenue to support the project and expand usage options. The project has high levels of community involvement, working in partnership and builds on previous investments. Natural light, solar panels and air-source heat pumps will provide a significant portion of the building’s energy and LED lighting. New double-glazed windows to conservation standards and insulation will be installed.

  • Island pit stops, £540,000. Arran and Cumbrae.

This project aims to manage the challenges of increasing visitor numbers by reorienting and improving existing infrastructure to encourage dispersal of visitors and address over-visit at key sites. It aims to increase the quality of the visitor experience by providing better facilities, thereby promoting increased stay time and spending on the islands. Island restroom buildings will be redeveloped into accessible, eco-designed island pit stops at nine sites. This project offers a replicable example of sustainable tourism.

Council of the Orkney Islands

  • New Kirkwall Nursery, £1,500,000. Mainland Orkney.

New crèche located next to the Orkney College campus, to replace an existing building slated for demolition and which is the only current crèche in Orkney. The project has strong ties to population retention, tackling child poverty and achieving net zero ambitions. The proposed crèche is located next to Orkney College, providing opportunities to support students in early childhood practice as they develop their skills, supporting a key sector which has had recruitment challenges. The new installation will save approx. 20 tonnes of CO2 by moving the nursery service from the old CLASP building from 1960 to the new, highly insulated building.

Shetland Islands Council

By investing in a new portable cabin, additional access and parking, this social enterprise in a small community will be able to expand the range and volume of repaired and donated items offered for sale. This project is a strong and replicable example of working towards net zero ambitions in a remote community and is a clear model of the circular economy in action. The Scrapstore strives to achieve net zero ambitions by reducing the travel and energy associated with disposing of goods that are still in good/repairable condition or travel to purchase new items. This can help reduce overall household expenses and influence the perception that the community can be an affordable place to live compared to other regions and centers.

  • Development of Papa Stour Kirk £252,505. Papa Stour. Shetland Islands Council.

This second phase of a three-phase project will help safeguard and enhance the real estate fabric of Papa Stour Kirk, the island’s only community facility. The work will protect the building for continued use and serve as a stepping stone to a new community hub and visitor center. There are strong links with NIP Strategic Goal 10 supporting empowered local communities and which incorporates zero emissions ambitions.

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