Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP has today set out proposals to establish a new Highlands and Islands Just Transition Commission, to take account of their specific needs and unique opportunities.
The proposals build on calls for a taskforce to help ensure the islands are not “forgotten” from Shetland’s MSP Beatrice Wishart, after the Scottish Government announced a new £500 million Just Transition Fund, limited to the North East and Moray.
The Commission forms the latest instalment in Mr Cole-Hamilton's plan to offer "new hope for the climate emergency" in the run up to COP26. Mr Cole-Hamilton has previously set out proposals for revolutionising the uptake of electric vehicles, tackling “fast fashion” culture and embedding a circular economy.
Mr Cole-Hamilton said:
“Everywhere and everyone needs to adapt if Scotland is to have a sustainable future. No community should be left behind.
“The highlands and islands helped Scotland reach new heights of prosperity by adapting to make the most of the North Sea oil and gas. Now, people in these places are looking to the future and the potential a climate friendly future could hold.
“But families, livelihoods and communities have been built around industries that are now in decline. These areas depend on future opportunities, and they need help to find them.
“This is a bid to recognise how important oil and gas has been to communities across the entire north of Scotland and ensure that everyone gets the skills, support and retraining they need to thrive.
Scottish Liberal Democrat Climate Emergency spokesperson and Orkney’s MSP Liam McArthur commented:
“Areas like Orkney have already shown incredible, world leading innovation. From the development of tidal energy to low emission transport options, the islands having been leading the way.
“At the same time, many people still work in the oil and gas industry, and haven’t yet found a way to switch to something more sustainable. There should be a transition for those people, their jobs shouldn’t just be sacrificed.”