The latest results from the 2011 Census in Scotland provide the greatest level of detail so far and show that the population living on islands in Scotland increased by 4 per cent since 2001. It is not a uniform picture as some islands have seen large increase whilst others have seen decreases in their population. For Tiree the worrying statistics show that there was a 15% decline in the population from 2001 to 2011, with the total number of people present on census day falling from 770 to 653.
The 2011 figures contrast sharply with the statistics for all Scotland’s inhabited islands, which together saw a population increase of 3.97% over the ten-year period from 2001, from 99,739 people to 103,702. The population of Orkney increased by 11% over the ten year period. The 3.97% increase in island populations is slightly lower than the 4.6% rise for the population of Scotland as a whole.
Other islands which saw a decrease in population included Arran (a fall of 8.25%), Great Cumbrae (a fall of 4.04%), and Bute (a fall of 5.13%). MSP Michael Russell has called for the council to hold a summit to address the decline. Mr Russell said;
“All the figures from the census for Argyll & Bute show a declining population across the area – on the islands and on the mainland and although some other islands are losing population too – most notably the southern part of the western isles – our area of Argyll & Bute is losing population faster than any other local authority area. That decline must be halted. I have raised the issue of rural and island renewal with the Council on many occasions since I became MSP in 2011 and these statistics confirm once again that this is the most urgent problem they have to address. I am therefore asking the Council to convene a population summit in the autumn with all interested parties including Government, HIE, the NHS, Transport Scotland , local communities and the private sector in order to develop a clear and coherent plan that can reverse this decline.”