Orkney Islands Council (OIC) has been “gifted” a tiny island – a well-known seal sanctuary – by the Crown Estate.
Councillors have agreed to take ownership of the island of Little Green Holm as an investment for part of Orkney’s biodiversity future.
The Crown Estate offered the “seal sanctuary” to the local authority at no cost, other than the administration associated with the transaction itself.
Members approved the offer at the asset management sub-committee last month, and this has just been ratified at this week’s full council meeting.
Councillor Leslie Manson, chairman of the sub-committee, said the move was prudent to allow for “stewardship” of the eight-acre island.
“This is a sensible acquisition to make on behalf of the people of Orkney and an investment in our biodiversity given the island’s importance as a breeding site.”
The island, which stands only nine metres high, is part of a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) which, alongside the neighbouring island of Muckle Green Holm, supports a nationally significant population of grey seals.
Lying four kilometres north of Shapinsay and two kilometres south-west of Eday, Little Green Holm, is vegetated with a coastline made up of rocks and boulders.
Gavin Barr, OIC executive director of development and infrastructure, said: “Local authorities are well placed to deliver biodiversity conservation.
“As land managers and planning authorities they can have a significant positive impact on biodiversity protection, as well as identifying opportunities for enhancement.
“The opportunity for the council to purchase an island is not a regular occurrence and the council’s acquisition of Little Green Holm will provide the authority with an opportunity to contribute towards biodiversity conservation by ensuring that the island can continue as a haul-out and breeding site for grey seals.”
An Orkney Islands Council biodiversity report covering from 2018-2020 is due to be completed in December and this acquisition will be good evidence of the importance that the council and Orkney places on natural heritage.