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Brexit impact to be discussed as Government ministers meet in Kirkwall

Deputy First Minister John Swinney will chair the Convention of the Highlands and Islands in Kirkwall on Monday.

Brexit, transport links and Orkney’s marine economy are all set to be discussed when the latest Convention of Highlands and Islands (CoHI) come to Orkney on Monday.

Deputy First Minister John Swinney will chair the convention in Kirkwall, which will also see islands minister Paul Wheelhouse, rural economy secretary Fergus Ewing and minister for public finance and digital economy Kate Forbes meet with Orkney Islands Council representatives and stakeholders.

Speaking ahead of the convention, Mr Swinney said: “The Convention is an invaluable opportunity to engage directly with rural communities, exchange ideas, and strengthen the relationships between national and local government.

“The Scottish Government will provide an update on the National Transport Strategy Review, focusing on how we can provide equal access to transport services across all of Scotland.

“We will also be taking the opportunity to explore the potential impacts of Brexit on Highland and Island communities, and discussing strategic priorities to help us mitigate those impacts, including how to bridge the EU funding gap, which will be absolutely vital to the future prosperity of our farmers and fishermen.

“And we will explore how to maximise the marine economy, which has been identified as a key priority at previous conventions. The focus of those discussions is primarily on salmon farming, wave and tidal energy — which is big business in Orkney — and marine biotechnology.

“It’s essential that we get input on these plans from local authorities and stakeholders.”

Councillor James Stockan, leader of Orkney Islands Council said: “I am very pleased we are hosting the latest meeting of the Convention of the Highlands and Islands and look forward to welcoming Government ministers and public sector representatives from across the region.

“This is a worthwhile and timely opportunity to engage on key issues for our communities — transport, the importance of the seas around us to our future prosperity, and Brexit which, whatever the outcome, seems certain to have a considerable impact across the Highlands and Islands.”

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