Worry as New Report Finds Western Isles Most at Risk of Depopulation in Scotland

A new report which shows that the Western Isles is the area most at risk of depopulation has been met with concern by Highlands and Islands MSP Donald Cameron.

The findings, which were published by the National Records of Scotland as part of their annual review of demographic trends, shows that the projected change in population between 2016 to 2026 in the Western Isles will fall by 4.8%.

Comparatively, other island authorities such as Shetland and Orkney are projected to see increases in population of 0.2% and 0.5% respectively. Nearby Highland Council will also see growth of 1.7%.

The report announced that as of June 2017, the total population of Scotland hit 5,424,800 – the largest ever seen, and it is expected to grow over the next ten years by 3.2%.

Donald Cameron MSP said:

“The news that the Western Isles is facing a depopulation crisis is not new, but what this report indicates is that little has been done to counteract that shift.

Many local residents will question why it is that other rural authorities like Shetland, Orkney and Highland are going to see modest increases in population and yet the Western Isles is set to take a massive hit.

I know that the Comhairle have done a lot in recent years to improve educational outcomes and to encourage more young people to stay on the island. Likewise the UK Government’s commitment to remote island wind will hopefully lead to economic regeneration too.

But ultimately, the SNP need to step up and encourage outside investment to the islands, otherwise this crisis could have serious economic and social implications for the islands.”