The main concern for the Scottish islands is how to manage the move away from the EU Cohesion Policy and its associated structural funds and how to safeguard the islands’ fragile economy and avoid the threat of depopulation.
Island agriculture and infrastructure are particularly at risk. Most of the agricultural activity in the Scottish Islands centres around the production of sheep and cattle. The UK sheep industry is totally dependent on export, with something like 60% of UK lamb exported predominately to Europe. The nightmare situation for Scottish beef and lamb producers is that they have to compete with no support against subsidised European producers, with diminished access to the common market (possible imposed tariff of 20% depending on options). If this is the result of Brexit, it will decimate Scottish agriculture, let alone people trying to farm on the islands.
Without EU funding to support improvements, what will happen? Without pressure and funding from the EU, the outer isles of Orkney and elsewhere in Scotland will be left to decline, with the rate of depopulation increasing on all but the largest isles.