A Just Transition is a top priority nationally and rightly so; the transition to net-zero cannot leave anyone behind. In Orkney, despite producing 130% of our electricity by renewables, we have higher energy costs than almost anywhere in the country, and one of the worst shares of electricity in our overall energy mix. This has led to one of the highest rates nationally of fuel poverty and extreme fuel poverty. The transition to renewable energy should be a prime driver in lowering the costs of all Orkney residents, but it isn't happening quickly enough. Additionally, we welcome the Scotwind announcements for the West and East of Orkney developments. We commit to fighting at every level of government to ensure local people & supply chains benefit from job opportunities and increased investment.

We will:

  • Prioritise a Just Transition and focus pressure from communities at all levels of government to ensure a rapid implementation.

  • Support the development of the Scapa Deep Water Quay to capitalise on the renewable opportunities afforded by the offshore wind industry around Orkney in the immediate future.

  • Press for public income generated by Scotwind to be given back to local communities at all levels of government, and for these funds to support sustainable development in Orkney.

  • Support the just transition of Flotta to a hydrogen hub ensuring workers are re-trained and get new jobs and encourage the advances in sustainable transport – developed in Orkney – for our aviation and transport sector.

  • Review Orkney Island Council’s approach to fuel poverty and increase the scale of resources and actions available with partners to the level the seriousness of the situation demands.


The Orkney economy is unique in Scotland. It is stronger and more diverse than most rural economies, but it has significant challenges too. Unemployment may be low, but so are wages in some areas such as the North Isles, and the recruitment and retention of staff remains a serious barrier for many sectors. COVID has had a serious detrimental impact on the hospitality and tourism sectors, and we applaud the recent use of strategic reserves through a Business Hardship Fund to shore up local businesses through this difficult period. But more is required to support local businesses, large and small, in the medium/long-term to ensure that future economic growth is both sustainable and benefits our communities. There are potentially large and exciting developments on the immediate horizon, such as the development of the offshore wind sector which holds much potential with the need for the installation and servicing of as many as 1,700 offshore turbines producing as much as 3 GW of renewable energy. We are equally supportive of Flotta transitioning to a Green Hydrogen hub.

We will:

  • Prioritise the development of the offshore wind and tidal/wave sectors through the development of the Scapa Deep Water Quay in particular to ensure that Orkney benefits from this key part of the green transition ahead.

  • Prioritise the skilling up of young people for careers in renewables and related supply chains and re-skill employees in the oil & gas sector as part of a Just Transition to green hydrogen and other renewable fuels.

  • Work with existing partners such as HIE and the Kirkwall BID to expand the Orkney workforce to fill employment gaps and skills shortages.

  • Develop an entrepreneurial hub of small premises rented on short term contracts at preferential rates to stimulate and support business start-ups.

  • Support the growth of cooperative style businesses.

  • Foster a positive culture of teamwork and collaboration between Orkney Islands Council and local businesses. Orkney is at its best when we all work together.


Transport is both a significant source of emissions in Orkney and in need of serious prioritisation within Orkney Islands Council. The Orkney Local Transport Strategy has not been revised since 2007 and our internal ferries are the oldest in Scotland. In particular, the ‘short-sea’ crossing between Burwick and Gills Bay needs to be reviewed owing to its advantages of a short 8 mile route of only 30 minutes duration and its links with the North Coast 500 route. Future infrastructure must change, and quickly. More progress also needs to be made on EV uptake and infrastructure, whilst the outdated ferries and aircraft that comprise lifeline services continue to be huge burners of fossil fuels. Recent progress with the development of sustainable aviation fuels and electric engines for light aircraft are welcome, as are the renewable-powered ferries now running in Norway and other Scandinavian countries. But the change here in Orkney is slow and needs to accelerate.

We will:

  • Replace our ageing ferry fleet with electric or hydrogen/electric ferries during the next 5 years. Orkney Islands Council must work together with the Scottish Government to formulate an innovative fleet replacement strategy.

  • Review the ‘short-sea’ crossing from Burwick to Gills Bay as a potential key feature of Orkney’s Local Transport Strategy.

  • In partnership with the Orkney Renewable Energy Forum, ensure Orkney’s Electric Vehicle (EV) strategy accelerates EV use in the county and supports improved charging reliability, infrastructure, and initiatives such as ReFLEX. The electrification of the Orkney Islands Council fleet must be a high priority.

  • Work with HITRANS and the Scottish Government to improve EV charging infrastructure on the A9 and develop a better integrated transport link between the ferries and trains/buses on mainland Scotland.

  • Use significant increases to the national active transport budget, as secured by the Scottish Greens, to increase Orkney’s under-developed active travel infrastructure, including exploring the feasibility of a cycleway and footpath between Stromness and St. Margaret’s Hope, via Kirkwall, to make walking, cycling and driving safer.

  • Develop an integrated system of internal-ferry passenger travel and bicycle hire to support local development trusts, alleviate vehicle capacity, and encourage active travel.

  • Explore the feasibility of a light electric railway from Kirkwall to Stromness, via the World Heritage Site at Stenness, to reduce the presence and impact of tourist coaches from key roads, and upgrade Orkney’s infrastructure for the 21st Century.

  • Implement a maximum speed limit of 20mph in built-up areas to make Orkney’s roads safer for all users and reduce fuel consumption.


Housing is one of the most critical issues in Orkney. The provision of housing is a crucial element of sustaining any community, but particularly so in island communities. At present there are capacity constraints on building new houses, and problems with the supply of both private and leased properties. There is a waiting list of over 800 people in the social housing sector, and seasonal conflicts with supply due to tourism demand in the private sector. We know that people and students who wish to move to Orkney to work or study struggle to find housing.

We will:

  • Prioritise housing in the next local plan to increase supply and support innovative sustainable housing which is carbon neutral.

  • Housing developments should incorporate greenspace, community areas, local amenities, colour, and active travel measures.

  • Support further development of co-housing projects for older residents in the local plan such as the pioneering development in St. Margaret’s Hope.

  • Make it easier to build, especially in rural areas where land is comparatively cheaper, in the next local development plan.

  • Develop student housing in Stromness and Kirkwall in association with Heriot Watt, Robert Gordon, UHI, and other universities.

  • Scope the potential for district heat networks in Orkney to provide even lower cost heating not at upfront cost to individuals as is the case with heat pumps

  • We will implement the short-term let licensing and regulatory powers shortly to be available to Orkney Islands Council to balance the needs of young people and other employees who cannot access housing, with the needs of the tourism sector.

  • Green Ministers and MSPs have pledged to improve tenants’ rights within the lifetime of the current Parliament, and we will liaise with colleagues to ensure that such legislation is island-proofed and benefits Orkney tenants.


Orkney Islands Council is currently reviewing its entire Waste Services section and is proposing to build a new waste treatment and recycling centre on the old abattoir site at Hatston. We are supportive of this proposal as it will modernise general waste operations and make recycling obligations more efficient and cost effective, leading to higher recycling rates. Waste operations need to be set in a holistic context of reduce, reuse and recycle, and coupled to a zero-waste and circular economy.

We will:

  • Conduct a circular economy assessment to identify where we are producing waste, how we can reduce waste, and where we can integrate that waste back into a circular local economy.

  • Establish local grants for audits of existing or new businesses to help facilitate a circular local economy.

  • Encourage and improve the use of local facilities such as Household Waste Recycling Centres to make it easy for households to reuse and recycle.

  • Assign a councillor to take lead on developing a circular economy and championing sustainability.


Tourism is important to Orkney and pre-COVID attracted some half a million visitors each year contributing £50 million+ to the local economy. For years now however the policy of mass growth has gone unchecked and urgently needs revision to ensure sustainable management. Tourism growth has been sudden and massive for Orkney, with many communities subsequently feeling overwhelmed. Greens will encourage sustainable tourism which supports, instead of overwhelms, the local community. We will push for a review of the capacity and scale of tourism, including the social and environmental costs. Furthermore, stronger environmental controls on the impact of cruise ships on the sea, air quality, and on communities, is urgently needed. Likewise, so is better infrastructure to support tourism, such as road maintenance, public toilets, visitor information hubs, and waste disposal facilities.

We will:

  • With local partners ensure that the Orkney Tourism Strategy develops a long-term plan for the sustainable development of tourism in Orkney including careful management of tourist volume to optimise cruise vessel visits and day tours.

  • Introduce green requirements for visiting cruise liners and work towards the elimination of climate and environmental damage arising from port calls by visiting vessels.

  • Investigate ship, passenger excursion, visitor and resident experiences of tourism, as well as any infrastructural and locational impacts.

  • Ensure that the World Heritage Site in the Heart of Neolithic Orkney is managed well and sustainably and supports the long-term development and security of archaeology research in Orkney.

  • Engage with communities to produce local Place Plans that manage tourism sustainably.

  • Consult local views on and the potential of a ‘tourist tax’, the power to implement which will soon be available to Orkney Islands Council. These funds should be ring fenced for investment in local community infrastructure and initiatives so that the benefits of tourism reach all sectors of the Orkney community.