Bute representatives impressed at Orkney conference

Fyne Futures was one of many groups across Europe invited to a conference for small island communities.
Fyne Futures was one of many groups across Europe invited to a conference for small island communities.

Fyne Futures delegates joined representatives from Ireland, Brittany, Greece and beyond at a conference and learning exchange for small island communities earlier this month.

The 17th annual conference of the European Small Islands Federation went ahead in the Orkney islands from September 11 - September 13, and Reeni Kennedy-Boyle attended as a representative of Bute’s own environmental sustainability charity.

Reeni, general manager of Fyne Futures, said: “A packed week of business meetings, community visits and cultural events ensured that the representatives from across the European continent gained fantastic insight to Orcadian life and had the opportunity to exchange experiences similar and disparate from our own islands.

“Collaborative working was a big theme, particularly the variety of ways in which local government works with social and private enterprises.

“The communities of Orkney, like Argyll & Bute, are separated with challenging landscapes and waterways. It was impressive to see how Orcadians embrace these challenges and ensure they make the most of all the natural resources available to them.

“Wind turbines are scattered across the landscape and are every shape and size. Some are private owned, adding revenue to the food and drink sector and other businesses. Some are community owned and are generating good community benefits such as supporting services, goods and activities that wouldn’t be available to the islanders from other means.

“A great example is Shapinsay, where individuals are able to access a water taxi for late night returns to the island that are outside the council-run ferry timetable. This has been very beneficial for improving the connectivity between Shapinsay and mainland Orkney, particularly the civic centre of Kirkwall.

“The appeal of culture, heritage and arts sits very comfortably next to energy generation.

Camille Dressler, leader of the Scottish Islands Federation, said: “We will continue to push for the needs of the smaller islands of Europe to be recognised and addressed, especially in the context of the Territorial Cohesion Policy post 2020 and Brexit. In the meantime, I am delighted that there was so much interest from the smaller islands of Orkney to engage with the work we do at Scottish level.”

Fyne Futures was registered as a charity in 2005, and works to a number of objectives to improve aspects of life in Argyll and Bute.