The Northern Isles offers a fantastic quality of life in one of the most stiunning natural settings in the world.
This bustling archipelago of 22,500 people boasts abundant wildlife, a spectacular coastline and dozens of major archaeological sites. Together, the islands have about 1,700 miles of coastline and over 500 square miles of open countryside.
The historic and the contemporary exist side by side today, with UNESCO world heritage sites such as the Standing Stones of Stenness and Skara Brae being destinations you won’t want to miss, along with natural phenomena like The Old Man of Hoy.
Both locations are home to welcoming, diverse and lively communities – that are rich in culture, heritage and diversity. Our citizens have roots in dozens of different countries, ranging from Norway, Russia and Bulgaria to the Philippines, China and Pakistan, as well as all four nations of the British Isles. There’s a very strong community spirit, and the islands' vibrant cultural life includes internationally famous events such as the Shetland Folk Festival (which will celebrate its 40th year in 2022), the Up Helly Aa Festival and, in Orkney, the Orkney Folk Festival and International St Magnus Festival.
Wherever you are in Shetland or Orkney you are never far from nature. Our natural assets are our most valuable. While we can’t always promise you the best of beach weather, we still enjoy the most stunning of white sands all year round. The islands are also home to a dizzying array of wildlife: on land, in the air and in the sea. It’s a nature lovers’ dream. And you can also expect the unforgettable experience of witnessing the Northern Lights when the conditions are just right.
Getting here is simple. You can fly to Shetland and Orkney from Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Inverness and Glasgow (and Bergen in Norway in summer months), or take the ferry from Aberdeen (to Orkney or Shetland) or Scrabster or Gill’s Bay (to Orkney)
Surrounded by fishing grounds and oil & gas fields, both of these industries are vital to the local economies. Sullom Voe Terminal opened in 1978 and at its peak was pumping over 55 million tonnes annually. The 1970s also saw the opening of the Flotta Oil Terminal on Orkney, and it remains a key employer on the islands. But the islands are also establishing themselves as an ideal location for renewable energy – tapping into natural resources that we have in abundance, such as wind and tidal power. We’ve set ourselves a goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2030, and to provide 5% of the UK’s clean energy by 2050. The Viking Energy project will see 103 wind turbines become operational by 2024 and Shetland will also be home to the world’s first offshore tidal energy array in the Bluemull Sound between Yell and Unst. Orkney is world leading in the field of renewables particularly as a Living Laboratory for testing wind, tidal and wave devices, and the generation and storage of Hydrogen as fuel for cars, vans, buses, ferries and aircraft. In addition, a new deep water quay in Scapa Flow is in development to support the offshore renewables industry.
While Shetland is well-known for its energy industry, you might be surprised to discover that we are also soon to be home to the Shetland Space Centre, to be located on Unst, the northernmost island. Test launches are planned for as soon as 2022.
We’ve set ourselves a goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2030, and to provide 5% of the UK’s clean energy by 2050.