SCOTTISH ministers and the leaders of three island councils have written to the UK Business Secretary over claims that government indecision is putting at risk more than £1.3 billion of funding for large-scale renewable energy products.

Their letter to Greg Clark was announced as Holyrood ministers met council leaders from Orkney, Shetland and Comhairle nan Eilean Siar at the Convention of the Highlands and Islands (COHI) in Inverness. The politicians expressed their concern about the effects of continued uncertainty on support for large-scale renewable energy projects on the Scottish Islands.

An independent report estimated that island economies could benefit by up to £725 million from renewables over the next quarter of a century.

But the Scottish Government said delays in announcing which technologies would be supported in the next round of auctions that back the sector were putting at risk existing investments made in developing renewable energy projects.

Deputy First Minister John Swinney said: “In the wake of the EU referendum, the UK can ill afford to miss the opportunity to unlock £1.3bn of investments offered by the shovel-ready anchor projects on the Western Isles and Shetland and the associated benefits for the UK-wide supply chain.

“We urge that this period of uncertainty is brought to a swift conclusion and that the strong economic case for remote island wind, developed in partnership between the UK Government and the wider Scottish Islands Delivery Forum membership is duly acknowledged in a decision that allows island projects to compete in the next allocation round.

“We would urge the new Secretary of State to take immediate action to ensure that the UK Government re-engages with this process and delivers on the commitments to harness the renewables potential of the islands.”

Meanwhile, the COHI meeting also heard confirmation from Economy Secretary Keith Brown of a £2.4m boost for the creative sector from the European Regional Development Fund.

It will see Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) build on the four industry networks for the region’s small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in screen and broadcast, music, writing and publishing and crafts, fashion and textiles.

Brown said: “This financial support has the potential to create 350 new jobs in the north of Scotland, bolstering what is already a thriving creative industry.

“The niche assistance this network and conference programme will provide to SMEs and micro businesses will be designed to bolster growth of this key sector within the Highlands and Islands economic mix. I look forward to seeing the positive results for firms throughout the region.

“This additional funding yet again underlines why the best way to guarantee jobs, investment, services and projects across the country is by maintaining Scotland’s relationship with the European Union.”

Iain Hamilton, head of creative industries at HIE, said the sector was a vital and growing one.

“In the initial two years of work, almost 2,000 unique businesses and individuals have been supported,” he said.

“This model gives us greater reach into the sector, and allows us to be more flexible and collaborative as the sector is itself. We have had great support from industry and international recognition for how unique and effective the model is, so we are delighted the funding will allow us to do more.”

Highland Council leader Margaret Davidson added: “Additional funding will help grow these industries and assist with further job creation.”

Concerns were also raised by Highland councillors and members of Moray Economic Partnership about the future of Fort George and Kinloss, as part of a Ministry of Defence review.

Brown, who is also the Veterans Minister, said he would seek an “urgent meeting” with UK defence minister Mark Lancaster.

Fort George, near Ardersier, is an 18th-century artillery fort and currently houses soldiers from the Black Watch, while Kinloss in Moray is a former RAF station that now provides a base for the Army.