Shetland is an archipelago comprising over 100 islands located 211 miles north of Aberdeen and 225 miles west of Bergen, Norway. The population is spread across 16 inhabited islands, with the main town of Lerwick home to roughly 7,000 inhabitants. There are no areas in Shetland that would meet the statistical definition of ‘urban’.
While the economy of Shetland is active and growing, with the fishing and aquaculture industry the largest single contributor to output and the unemployment rate the joint lowest of all Scottish local authorities, the islands’ isolated location is reflected in a significantly higher cost of living than elsewhere in most of the UK – depending on family size and location in Shetland, this varies between 29% and 74% above the UK urban average. It is estimated, for example, that over 40% of Shetland households are in fuel poverty.
Shetland is an economically active and socially cohesive community and can boast an thriving voluntary base – there are over 600 community organisations, voluntary groups and social enterprises located in Shetland, and statistics show that almost a third of the adult population gives time to volunteer in the community every year.
Aims and objectives
The Shetland LEADER Local Development Strategy has been developed with the following overarching aim:
"Supporting stronger communities, individuals and organisations through promoting social inclusion, poverty reduction and economic development."
The aims and objectives of the Shetland LEADER Local Development Strategy are:
- Support communities to develop projects which address carbon reduction and energy saving
- Develop and enhance services and facilities which support a high quality of life in rural communities
- Enhance the natural and cultural heritage of Shetland, and improve tourism and leisure opportunities in local areas
- Encourage community initiatives which develop food and drink projects in rural areas
- Provide rural communities with the means and opportunity to address issues of disadvantage and inequality
- Encourage co-operation and experience-sharing with rural areas located eIsewhere in Scotland, the UK and Europe
- Ensure sustainable development of areas of importance to the local fisheries sector (FLAG)
Sheila Tulloch, LEADER Programme Co-ordinator