Population boom as thousands flock to Scottish islands
Friday 23 August 2013
They’re some of the most remote parts of the British Isles, presenting challenges to simple everyday life posed by nowhere else in the UK – just as George Orwell learnt in Jura 60 years ago.
In the modern age, with more people moving to cities, you might think places such as Shetland, Orkney and Harris would be struggling to maintain their populations. Think again.
Open air, an untouched landscape and an abundance of wildlife are just some of the reasons why thousands of people have moved to the islands of Scotland in the past decade.
Offering a very different lifestyle even to mainland parts of Scotland, the Outer Hebrides and other northern isles are flourishing according to recent census statistics released by the Office of National Statistics – with the number of residents rising from 99,739 people in 2001 to 103,702 people in 2011.
Russ Madge, a local councillor on the island who is a father of three and works for the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, moved to Orkney from East Sussex in 2002. He isn’t surprised that more have followed his lead.
“It was a family decision. We came here on holiday and loved it,” he said. “It’s a great place to live, fantastic opportunities, good education for the kids... It’s all about the freedom for the children. The kids love playing on their bikes outside.”
There’s employment for them too, he says. “There’s a lot of stuff going on with marine renewables here.”
The rise has not been consistent across the Western Isles with places such as Arran, Bute and Islay experiencing a drop in their population.
In some areas, the difficulties of everything from buying food and supplies to reaching the nearest hospital are proving too much. But Shetland has also lured in newcomers.
Morgan Blanch and her husband Patrick moved there in March this year, and now own the Maryfield House Hotel on Bressay. Originally from Vancouver, Ms Blanch says: “Patrick and I were talking one day and we found that it was both our dream to live in the countryside or even a small island.
“We had moved to Edinburgh from Canada last October and liked the city because it was a short travelling distance to the countryside. One night in March this year we saw the TV advert with the dancing Shetland pony and both our hearts sank because we both fell in love with the island right then.”
“So two days later we packed our bags and headed to Shetland. The way of life here, the beauty and the peacefulness of it made us want to stay. We were looking over from the larger part of the Shetland and saw this beautiful hotel and thought ‘That is our dream home’. Surprisingly when we went to visit it the next day it was for sale.”
Maurice Irvan, 24, manager of Captain’s Flint pub in Shetland adds: “We notice it in the pub and profits are increasing, so that is a good thing. I think our history in Shetland, the fact that most of the land has been untouched so we still have our Shetland ponies and flowers take people back to the basics. There are quite a few ages moving here, not just the older retired generation.
“I was speaking to a couple the other day that moved here – they bought a hotel and want to raise a family here on the Island”.
A piece of peace
103,702 The number of people living on the islands at the 2011 census, the most recent survey
2 The percentage of the national population that the Scottish island-dwellers make up
47,103 The number of homes on Scotland’s inhabited islands
250 New island jobs created by the marine renewables industry
- 1 Frank Lampard's face drops when Holly Willoughby introduces him as a 'Man City legend'
- 2 'Do not give them a reason': Baltimore man divides police and rioters in hope of avoiding violence
- 3 X Factor in crisis as numbers of people auditioning plummets
- 4 Baltimore riots: Furious mother marches her son home live on TV
- 5 General Election 2015: Stephen Hawking says he will vote Labour
General Election 2015: Tories suspend candidate who said she would never support 'the Jew' Ed Miliband
Bali Nine executions: Indonesia confirms killings of Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran will go ahead
The four utterly contradictory polls that tell the story of this election and why it is pointless trying to predict the outcome
General Election 2015: Prospect of Labour-SNP coalition makes one in four voters less likely to support Ed Miliband, says survey
Baltimore riots: Furious mother marches her son home live on TV
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
The sickening truth about food banks that the Tories don't want you to know
Aaron and Melissa Klein: Oregon anti-gay bakers ordered to pay $135,000 after refusing to make cake for same-sex wedding
EU exit would hit UK economy much harder than neighbouring countries, study finds
Andrew Lloyd Webber: Phantom of the Opera writer mocked after issuing a warning about Ed Miliband and Nicola Sturgeon
General election 2015: Labour will toughen hate crimes legislation surrounding Islamophobia
£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Trainee Case Handler is requi...
£15000 - £19000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...
£20000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...
£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...