THE Scottish Greens have welcomed a new Western Isles councillor to the party.

Roddy MacKay, a councillor in Comhairle nan Eilean Siar since 2017, has switched from being an independent.

The Uibhist a Tuath agus Beinn na Faoghla, Benbecula and North Uist representative takes the number of Greens on island councils to three, joining Steve Sankey and John Ross Scott in Orkney.

As well as local politics, MacKay is also widely known as the founder of the local Eilean Dorcha Festival (EDF), a hugely successful music festival which has raised over £2 million for the local economy since 2016.

He is also a board member of Hebridean Housing Partnership and local housing and energy agency, Tighean Innse Gall, as well as vice-chair of the council’s Gàidhlig Committee.

He said: “Since returning home to the Outer Hebrides over 10 years ago, I have had a burning desire to conserve our fragile community, to protect and preserve our ever-diminishing machair land, and to celebrate and safeguard our unique culture and heritage.

“I firmly believe that the Scottish Greens are the party leading the drive for a positive future that will be particularly vital to our islands in the post-Covid years.

“Seeing the positive impact of Green MSPs in the Scottish parliament, I concluded that now was the time for me to be part of the Greens for Change movement.

“It is only right, however, that – since the people of Benbecula and North Uist voted me onto the council as an independent councillor – I should continue my work as an independent until the May 2022 elections.

“My aim over the forthcoming year will be to work with like-minded councillors to bring about change in the way Uist and Benbecula are represented.”

Sankey welcome MacKay to the party as the pair vowed to fight Highlands and Islands Airports’ (HIAL) move to downgrade Benbecula airport by changing the level of Air Traffic Service provision from an Air Traffic Control service to an Aerodrome Flight Information Service (ATMS).

"We're delighted that Roddy has joined us and look forward to working together, especially in fighting the absurd HIAL ATMS proposals,” Sankey said.

MacKay added: “The islands have endured a particularly bad couple of years economically through the pandemic and the farcical situation regarding travel continues to be a massive issue.

“The devastating news that HIAL is attempting to downgrade Benbecula airport by implementing proposals to change the level of Air Traffic Service provision from an Air Traffic Control service to an Aerodrome Flight Information Service and the subsequent job losses will have a seriously detrimental impact on the local economy. The lack of capacity and service of ferries to and from these islands requires urgent resolution.

“The people of Uist and Benbecula need the support of a party that will challenge the Scottish Government to provide the lifeline services we deserve and not have to settle for the third-rate service we are being forced to tolerate at the moment.”