Press Releases

PRESS RELEASE : UK Government announces extra £4.6 million to support UK islands [May 2024]

The press release issued by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities on 8 May 2024.

Ahead of the fourth UK Islands Forum hosted on the Isle of Anglesey in Wales today, the UK Government has announced new funding to support island communities.

  • Island communities across the UK to benefit from new £1.6 million UK Government funding to help improve vital transport links
  • The UK Islands Forum Connectivity Project will deliver an enhanced evidence base, improving capability for island local authorities
  • A further £3 million also awarded to Orkney-based European Marine Energy Centre – the world’s first and leading wave and tidal energy testing facility
  • Announcements come ahead of 4th UK Islands Forum chaired by Michael Gove on Anglesey today, building on the millions of pounds already invested by UK Government to level up island communities across the UK

Island communities across the UK will benefit from a new £1.6 million project funded by the UK Government to improve vital transport links, helping to support local jobs and grow the economy.

Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove made the announcement as local authorities from islands across the UK gathered for the fourth UK Islands Forum in Anglesey.

The UK Islands Forum Connectivity Project will look at identifying options to improve transport in these distinct parts of the UK, which are often reliant on air and ferry services due to their geographical location. Good transport connectivity is essential for the prosperity of island communities and the local economy, but there are significant challenges and gaps in the island transport data and evidence needed to support investment cases.

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) and Department for Transport (DfT) are leading the project jointly, combining local and levelling up knowledge with specialist transport skills and expertise.

Together they will create the first-ever UK-wide evidence-base on island transport connectivity, providing the UK’s islands with new data and insights to improve capacity and capability. The project will also provide better evidence to support future investment decisions to drive innovation and levelling-up to meet shared priorities.

The UK Government is also providing £3 million to the Orkney-based European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) over two years – the world’s first and leading wave and tidal energy testing facility, with a further role in green hydrogen development.

Ministers visited its facilities at the inaugural Islands Forum hosted in Orkney in 2022. This new funding will help EMEC to deliver the UK’s Net Zero ambitions, increase innovation and investment in research and development, and drive the levelling up agenda and green growth.

Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove said:

Our islands contribute so much to the UK, and we value everything that’s distinct about them.

These projects have been made possible by the successful collaboration through our UK Island Forum, with our fourth event taking place on the Isle of Anglesey/Ynys Môn today.

The forum gives island leaders the chance to discuss the unique issues that matter most to their communities, and I am thrilled to see our discussions paving the way for vital change in areas like transport and driving forward green growth on islands.

These new projects are the direct result of fruitful discussions at past Island Forums hosted by the UK Government.

Island transport connections were a key theme at the last Islands Forum on the Isle of Lewis last October, and discussions resulted in the Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove proposing a new ‘task and finish’ group to explore the topic in-depth.

The group, which includes representatives from UK and devolved governments and member councils, have since met regularly to identify common transport issues and potential solutions – and now, with the launch of this new £1.6 million project, the UK Government will be empowering and equipping these island leaders to spearhead change.

Levelling Up Minister Jacob Young said:

The Islands Forum has been a wonderful innovation that has helped to put our island communities at the heart of UK Government policy-making and make sure that their voices are heard.

Being in North Wales this week has allowed me to see for myself the levelling up investment that is already making a difference and to hear from local leaders and residents on Anglesey about the issues that matter most to them.

The forum comes alongside the UK Government’s levelling up support for island communities across the UK, such as:

  • £20m Levelling Up Partnership with Argyll and Bute part of which will support island communities there
  • £20m Levelling Up Partnership with the Western Isles
  • £20m Towns Funding and £13.6m Green Link funding on the Isle of Wight
  • £20m Towns Funding for Kirkwall and £282,000 Community Ownership Fund for The Pund, Ronaldsay in Orkney
  • £26m for Fair Isle ferry works and £550,000 Community Ownership Funding for the Fair Isle Bird Observatory in the Shetland Islands
  • £6m capital funding for a museum and cultural centre in the Isles of Scilly