Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Scotland and Northern Ireland, Lord Dunlop

Building economic activity and providing high quality employment opportunities are two key factors to the Western Isles' future, says Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Scotland and Northern Ireland, Lord Dunlop.

The Conservative politician spoke today (Monday, April 10th) as he visited Lewis with Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Greg Clark MP, who co-chaired the fifth meeting of the Scottish Islands Renewables Delivery Forum in Stornoway.

Discussions included focus on the UK Government's recent consultation for wind projects on the Western Isles, Orkney and Shetland. The development of proposed major projects would trigger initial investment of £2.5billion.

“I think is was very important that Greg came and attended personally,” said Lord Dunlop. “I think that is a clear sign of the importance we attach to this. We are taking a large interest as it has the potential to be transformative, not just for the Western Isles, but for Orkney and Shetland also.”

During his time on Lewis today, Lord Dunlop also visited the BiFab fabrication yard at Arnish, and commented: “It is a fantastic facility. It's a locally based supplier undertaking a lot of work for the offshore sector and we want to see as much work from the offshore and wind sectors come to Scotland and the UK.”

And, having spoken at the St Kilda Centre Symposium in August last year, Lord Dunlop was also delighted to hear an update of progress being made on the new Ionad Hiort (St Kilda Centre) in Uig.

“I am very interested in the plans for the St Kilda Centre and anything that helps promote economic activity on the islands,” he said.

“Tourism is a key opportunity in economic activity; there are fantastic things for people visiting the islands to see and the more we can do to improve these offerings, the better it can be.

“I think it is also key to provide high quality job opportunities so that people who are educated don't have to leave the islands to achieve their ambitions. It's about building up connectivity and economic activity in the islands.”

Lord Dunlop continued: “I'm encouraged to hear how the St Kilda Centre is developing. St Kilda is a unique, not only as a Dual World Heritage site, but because it is so remote and difficult to get to.

“I'm very interested in how the St Kilda Centre can give people that experience of place, even if they don't manage to get there.”

And visiting both St Kilda, and the Outer Hebrides, is a must for Lord Dunlop, as he added: “I love visiting the islands. I've said it before and I'll say it again: everybody has their spiritual home and mine is the Outer Hebrides.

“I think they are fabulous in every way and I grab every opportunity I have to visit with both hands.”