Islanders begin Westminster talks over more powers

Alistair Carmichael is due to meet with island leaders. Picture: Jane Barlow
Alistair Carmichael is due to meet with island leaders. Picture: Jane Barlow
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ISLAND council leaders have begun talks with the UK Government in an attempt to gain more powers.

Orkney, Shetland and Western Isles councillors hope to get a better deal as part of their “our islands, our future” campaign, whatever the result of the independence referendum in September.

The three-day talks with British ministers will cover energy, better representation in Europe, the powers of the Crown Estate and special consideration from the Government during policy development.

The meetings began with Alistair Carmichael, the Scottish Secretary in the UK Government, and will include Chief Treasury Secretary Danny Alexander, Energy Secretary Ed Davey and Advocate General for Scotland Lord Wallace.

Orkney Islands Council convener Steven Heddle said he hopes the meetings will lead to the signing of a new concordat, or agreement, with the Government.

“This visit follows two days of highly productive talks at Westminster last October,” he said.

“Our islands our future has made considerable progress since then, so this is an excellent opportunity to discuss areas at the heart of the campaign in detail ahead of the publication of the concordat this summer.”

Scottish Secretary Alistair Carmichael said: “The UK Government is firmly supportive of the efforts of the islands councils to seek greater influence and clout in decision-making, both at Westminster and Holyrood.

“Discussions so far have been very constructive. The Scotland Office is working closely with the councils to make sure that islands’ priorities are represented and promoted at the heart of the UK Government. We now need to focus our efforts on getting formal agreement on the priorities that we have both agreed are important to us.”