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 offered the “seal sanctuary” to Orkney Islands Council at no cost, other than the administration associated with the transaction itself.
Members approved the offer at the Asset Management Sub-Committee in September, which was ratified at this week’s Full Council meeting (October).
Chair of the sub-committee, Councillor Leslie Manson, 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 9 metres high, is part of a Site of Special Scientific Interest which, alongside the neighbouring island of Muckle Green Holm, supports a nationally significant population of grey seals.
Lying 4km north of Shapinsay and 2km south-west of Eday, Little Green Holm, is vegetated with a coastline made up of rocks and boulders.
OIC Executive Director of Development and Infrastructure, Gavin Barr, 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 OIC 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.