Around 50 transformative projects for Skye and Raasay are being brought together into one plan to ensure the best chance of driving inward investment to the islands.
Highland Council bosses say it is the best way forward to nurture the priorities and aspirations of the islands’ vibrant communities.
A single investment plan with projects supporting sustainable tourism, low carbon projects, new housing and other vital infrastructure – including digital wifi – will present a convincing and attractive case for outside investment, argues Malcolm MacLeod, who is the council’s executive chief officer for infrastructure and environment.
“It is the best way to make sure we don’t miss out on investment from the public or private sectors and could really influence national funding,” he said.
“Lots of projects are already underway but what we wanted to do was make sure there is a coordination of these, particularly looking at where the opportunities might be in the future.”
Mr MacLeod said the investment plan draws on the success of the Fort William 2040 plan.
“It’s a good example of everyone coming together and trying to bring forward infrastructure priorities, set out in a way that is clear about the linkages between them.
“We hope this plan for Skye and Raasay presents clearly where the big priorities are.
“It’s public sector-led, but informed by the community and private sector.”
The multi-million pound ambition includes major investment in tourism hotspots, including improving car parking, toilets, campervan waste facilities, paths, habitat restoration, access, viewpointsm signage and interpretation.
And the effort will also build on the success of projects already underway or complete at locations including the Old Man of Storr, Quiraing and Fairy Pools.
There will be major changes in Portree, with a new link road to the north, additional housing and the potential pulling together of public services into a new hub.
Somerled Square in the heart of the town is proposed for a major reorganisation to drive business recovery and improve the public realm.
Villages all over the islands have ambitious projects identified to meet their own needs, including housing, tourism infrastructure and redevelopment of harbours and schools.
In Raasay, a micro-hydro project is at an advanced stage and the community is looking at options for housing development and tourism projects, including pontoons.
The north-west ferry port of Uig is undergoing a major harbour transformation, with plans to enhance business, tourism and outdoor facilities.
Skye councillor John Gordon said: “With my fellow ward councillors, John Finlayson, Calum Macleod, and Calum Munro, I’m delighted plans are now in place to draw up the investment strategy for Skye and Raasay early in the New Year.
“It is going to allow us to work together to help tackle some of challenges we face and grab hold of the unique opportunities on offer.
“At a time when Highland Council and other public sector resources are under such pressure, I’d encourage people to help shape this plan for the future.”
A webpage will keep people informed of planned events and progress and the public can also find out more by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Consultations with key partners will take place next month, working towards a public event on Thursday, February 18.