SCOTLAND must follow the example of the Faroe Islands as it seeks to become an “ambitious and confident country”, an MP has insisted.

SNP MP Ronnie Cowan has written for The National about his recent visit to the archipelago between Iceland and Norway in which he found the nation to be “exemplar” in its approach to connectivity and green energy.

He said he became fascinated with how the Faroese have confidence in their own ability to solve problems, insisting there was no sign of “too wee, too poor, too stupid” despite its population being just 1% of Scotland’s.

He wrote: “When the people of the Faroe Islands come up against a problem they work together to collaboratively find a solution.

“If they can do it themselves then they do. If they require expertise from outside, they use it. If they need to borrow to fund schemes, then they do.

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“They have a strong work ethic and an ability to let their hair down and enjoy themselves. Their ‘can do’ attitude may be born out of the fact that they have ‘to do’ because no one else is going to do it for them.

“They have a confidence in their own ability and there is no sign of ‘too wee, too poor, too stupid’.

“But amongst all of this the most amazing thing to me is that the Faroese population is only 54,000. That’s roughly 1% the size of Scotland’s population.”

The Faroe Islands – which has one of the fastest growing populations in Europe - has the most powerful devolved parliament in the world in the Løgting. While it is part of Denmark, it effectively operates as an autonomous country.

On his visit, Cowan said he was able to appreciate how the Faroese have prioritised digital and physical connectivity in order to “survive and thrive”.

In most of the land and sea areas, high-speed 4G connections and WiFi provision are available while it also has SHEFA-2 – an undersea fibre optic communication cable linking the Faroe Islands to mainland Scotland, though Cowan says UK legislation means that can’t be taken advantage of.

The Faroese have also become world leaders in building tunnels between the islets, with the famous Eysturoy Tunnel featuring the world’s first subsea tunnel roundabout.

Cowan was one of a delegation of MPs who were able to get a glimpse of the latest subsea tunnel - the Sandoy – which is 10.8km long but only cost £86 million to build.

It will cost about £1 million a year to run but, as tunnels carry a toll, it is expected that it will pay for itself over 25 years.

Cowan (below) said: “During that time the customers will not need to worry about the weather, cancellations or break downs or even observe a timetable. It will be 24/7 access every day of the year.”

The National:

Cowan added he was able to witness how shipbuilding is still thriving in the Faroes even though there is strong network of tunnels, with yards employing around 500 people.

One of the other fascinating aspects of life in the Faroes, Cowan said, was its self-sufficiency when it comes to energy, with a non-profit company owned by all the municipalities.

The Inverclyde MP said: “Being remote the island needs to be self-sufficient in energy and these days that means aiming for 100% clean green renewable energy by 2030.

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“The main player is SEV, which is a non-profit company 100% owned by all the municipalities.

“The plan is to use wind energy on both land and sea, mixed with hydro, solar, biomass, tidal and wave, and they are well on the way to achieving that goal.

“They will have the same issues with battery storage facilities as everyone else but they go to great lengths in their design to make them more pleasing on the eye.”

The Faroese government now also owns Atlantic Airways and operates a fleet of Airbus A320s, along with a helicopter fleet that provides domestic flights.

Cowan said he had grown to admire the risk-tasking attitude of the Faroese which he feels Scotland should also be inspired by.

“They [the Faroe Islands] are exemplar in many areas,” Cowan said.

“[There are] 54,000 people with their own language, airline, energy company, telecoms company and university.

“And amongst the fishing, shipping, engineering and telecommunications expertise the most powerful attribute of the Faroese is their attitude.

“Rather than identifying as a rocky outcrop on the edge of civilisation, the Faroese see themselves at the centre of the world and live and work accordingly.

“Like any country they have problems but importantly they have the powers and the mindset to seek solutions.”