European Small Islands Federation

Archive for Scotland

Historic Islands Bill in Scotland


The Scottish government has introduced a “historic bill” to create a sustainable future for Scotland’s islands. It is a success for the Scottish Archipelagoes (Orkney, Western Isles Council and Shetland Islands Council) that have been campaigning for several years for greater powers.

The introduction of the bill marks the first stage in its progress through parliament.

Among others points, the bill will propose the creation of a National Islands Plan; Extended powers to island councils in relation to marine licensing. This involves the potential extension of the provisions of the Orkney and Zetland County Council Acts of 1974, to enable Scottish minsters to establish a scheme requiring that activities up to 12 nautical miles from an island are licensed by the appropriate local authority; and giving island councils powers over activities on and around their coastlines.

This is well in line with ESINs view that an island consists of land + water. The sea should always be included when calculating the area, the rights, the culture, the benefits, the costs and the assets of an island – otherwise it might as well be a town in Germany, an English hill or a French village.

More information can be found on BBC Scotland:

Scottish Nightmare

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.

Eigg buy-out anniversary


Eigg is a small island in the Inner Hebrides. It stands out as a model for other islands in many ways and is the home of Camille Dressler, chair of the Scottish Island Federation, well known to all Esiners.

In 1975, Keith Schellenberg, a Yorkshire farmer and sportsman, bought Eigg for £265,000. Following a divorce there was a prolonged court case over the joint ownership which Mr Schellenberg lost in 1992. The island was put up for sale and Schellenberg rebought it for just under £1 million but as, by then, his relationship with the islanders had seriously deteriorated, he sold Eigg in 1995 for about £1.5 million to an elusive German artist who called himself ‘Maruma’.

After extravagant, unfulfilled promises by the new owner, and further acrimony on the island, the residents launched a public appeal for funds to purchase the island for themselves. Their aim was fulfilled on 12 June 1997 when Eigg was bought for £1.5 million from the true owner, a Hong Kong businessman, Hans Reiner Erdhart, by the Isle of Eigg Heritage Trust (a partnership of Highland Council, the Scottish Wildlife Fund and the islanders’ own appeal fund).

They have a beautiful although not recently updated homepage at We guess Camille, Eigg and all Eiggers will celebrate their Independence Day in style and wish them all a Happy Anniversary!


Argyll Islands Energy Audits

Among the Argyll Islands, Mull is probably best known within ESIN since we held our 12th Annual General Meeting there and on nearby Iona. During 2014 and 2015, as part of the SMILEGOV project, the Scottish Islands Federation has coordinated and trained local staff and volunteers to prepare energy audits for Mull, Iona Arran, Bute, Gigha, Iona, Lismore, Liung, Mull, Eigg, Canna, Rum and Muck.

Karta Argyll Islands

Attached are the audits in pdf format. Do take time to read these beautiful portraits of island life. Although the different audits took slightly different approaches and the situations on the various islands are disparate, there are some clear patterns that emerged: much energy consumed on ferries and heating.

Most of these island depend heavily on imported fuel but there are brilliant exceptions such as Eigg, a model for a sustainable energy future. Eigg produces 90% of the island’s electricity from renewables: first there are three hydroelectric plants in the streams coming down from An Sgurr, then there are four wind turbines, and then there are two solar panels. There are also two backup diesel generators (providing less than 10% of the electricity used in a year). This makes up for 333 kW which is fed to the islanders through a smart gird.

100 kW hydroelectric plant

100 kW hydroelectric plant

6 kW wind turbines

Four 6 kW wind turbines

30 kW solar panels

30 kW of solar panels

60 kW lead-acid battery storage

60 kW of batteries


Eigg’s smart grid power central

Eigg’s emissions have fallen by 47% from 8.4 to 4.45 tonnes/year per household since the system was installed in 2008.


Roger Andrews made a thorough, loving and critical report on Eigg’s model of sustainable energy in September  2014, you can read it here (thanks Roger for the Eigg pictures)

Arran-Energy-Audit-Report Bute-Energy-Audit Gigha-Energy-Audit-Report Iona-Energy-Audit-Report Lismore-Energy-Audit-Report Luing-Energy-Audit-Report Mull-Energy-Audit-Report Small-Isles-Energy-Audit-Report