2011 Census Provides Worrying Results

europe_populationThe 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.”


  • I’m sorry to read this statistic. It sincerely does make me feel sad to think that people are leaving the island, or not being born fast enough to outweigh those who have recently passed away.

    I think the statistic however, could have been predicted. You just have to look at the number of holiday homes now available on the Tiree website compared to 10 years ago. There have been so many instances where the elderly generation have passed away with their adult children inheriting property on Tiree, but only interested in selling it on. I’m one of those people who bought in 2007, so probably not helped, but i like to think that the people who pass through the cottage, do contribute heavily to the island economy.

    Similarly, i am always aware of ensuring that island labour gets any work i have at the property and much prefer this to bringing direct labour over with me. I have made many friends on Tiree through providing some form of employment. (even on a minor scale).

    The trend , sadly probably hasn’t stopped in 2011, and the worrying thing is that it may be up to 20% or so by this year! The problem may also be directly linked to employment opportunity also, as i see kids grow up and leave for college. I’m not too sure what the solution is, but i do take my hat off to any MSP who is willing to overturn that trend and work hard for Tiree to reverse population decline. Recently i added up all the time during my life that i’ve been on that wee island, and was surprised to see that it amounts to several years.I can only throw my 2 pence worth in as a “mainlander” and may not have the right to comment so openly, but i am willing to publicly put myself forward for inclusion on any forum or community group that is addressing this problem and if i can help in any way possible, would like to be considered. Thanks.

  • One solution would be to take the numerous wasted derelict properties out of the hands of the estate and croft/farm owners and amalgamate them into a tiree based housing committee for local long term lets to folk born on or residing on the island permenantly…use the funds from Tilley to rebuild….the issue then is creating employment for those who decide to stay…options do exist for those willing to develop businesses…and an increase in population also drives service based employment…this is a more sustainable option for the future than anything else currently on the table.

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