Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities
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4th Islands Forum opens up collaboration on housing for islands

The UK Government hosted the 4th Islands Forum on the Isle of Anglesey/Ynys Môn in Wales on 8 May 2024 to discuss housing delivery for island communities.

On Wednesday 8 May representatives from participating islands across the UK joined the Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove, with ministers and senior officials from the Welsh Government, Scottish Government and Northern Ireland Executive, and local MP for Ynys Môn Virginia Crosbie to discuss housing.

The fourth Islands Forum focussed on the housing challenges faced by islands wherever they are in the UK, such as the additional costs of construction and pressures caused by higher numbers of holiday homes and seasonal demand.  

Attendees discussed pioneering and dynamic approaches to tackling housing challenges, shared best practices and lessons, and ways effectively to deploy powers and funding, including using expanded council powers to tackle second and vacant homes and working with local development trusts to build new housing units. Participants also agreed on the importance of ensuring UK Government levelling up funding programmes are supporting work to increase housing and regeneration.

This builds on significant progress from previous forums, including the establishment of a Connectivity Task and Finish Group and a new £1.6 million UK Government project to help improve vital transport links for island communities. £3 million has also been awarded to the Orkney-based European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) over two years - the world’s first and leading wave and tidal energy testing facility, with a further role in green hydrogen development. Ministers visited its facilities at the inaugural Islands Forum hosted in Orkney in 2022.

The Islands Forum is an important part of UK Government’s programme to level up the whole of the UK. It is now a well-established and effective forum for member councils to meet with UK and devolved governments, to discuss common challenges and share learning.  

The Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove chaired the Forum on behalf of the UK Government and was supported by the Levelling Up Minister Jacob Young.

The devolved governments were also represented, with Northern Ireland Executive Minister John O’Dowd MLA and Welsh Government Minister Rebecca Evans MS taking part. The Scottish Government was represented by Erica Clarkson, Head of Islands Policy. Virginia Crosbie, MP for Ynys Môn, and Rhun ap Iorwerth, MS for Ynys Môn, also attended. They were joined by council leaders and representatives from: 

  • Cyngor Sir Ynys Môn / Isle of Anglesey County Council
  • Comhairle nan Eilean Siar/Western Isles Council
  • Orkney Islands Council
  • Shetland Islands Council
  • Highland Council
  • North Ayrshire Council
  • Argyll and Bute Council
  • Isle of Wight Council
  • Council of the Isles of Scilly
  • Rathlin Development & Community Association

Attendees also had an opportunity to visit the MSparc Science and Technology Park, to see Anglesey’s innovative work on skills, energy, and housing. Recognising the importance of the Welsh language to the Isle of Anglesey, Levelling Up Secretary of State Michael Gove explored a virtual reality village developed by Animated Technology to practise his Welsh language skills.      

The next Islands Forum in Autumn 2024 will be hosted by Argyll and Bute Council. 


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