ALMOST half of all Argyll and Bute communities, including parts of central Helensburgh, will face the most severe impacts of Brexit, according to a recent study.

An interactive map produced by the Scottish Government has divided the country into 7,000 datazones to assess which areas are most vulnerable to the consequences of the UK leaving the European Union.

And according to the Brexit Vulnerability Index Map, 61 datazones in Argyll and Bute are among the most vulnerable 20 per cent, equating to 41,240 people.

The shock findings reveal that while while many of the areas at greatest risk from the impact of Brexit are rural or on islands, east central Helensburgh is also deemed at greatest risk.

In contrast, part of the east end of the town was found to be least vulnerable.

The report is not based on a ‘no deal’ scenario.

READ MORE: New council report sets out Argyll and Bute no-deal Brexit risks

It takes into account eight variable indicators: access to services; Brexit workforce; CAP (Common Agricultural Policy) payments; EU Structural Funds; income deprivation; migration flow; population change and working age population.

Last month, a report submitted to Argyll and Bute Council by outgoing chief executive Cleland Sneddon said that the area’s fresh fish and shellfish industry is expected to be hardest hit by Brexit and that was “the most critical issue” for the local authority in the event of no deal.

The report added: “There are concerns that a ‘no deal’ withdrawal from the EU may push up the cost of fruit, vegetables, meat and dairy as fresh products would not/cannot be stockpiled by suppliers.

“This may have an adverse impact on residents in communities who already suffer from higher food and drink costs due to rurality and island living.

“A related concern is the potential for the exacerbation of fuel poverty in the event that the import costs and stock levels of fuel are affected by both import tariffs and currency fluctuations, given the number of ‘off-grid’ properties across Argyll and Bute.

“It is important to support our communities and ensure that there are adequate arrangements to protect the vulnerable or those who may become vulnerable.”

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Argyll and Bute MP Brendan O’Hara said: "Argyll and Bute is by its very nature a mainly rural constituency.

"Many of our food producers are just-in-time industries and rely on the smooth traffic flow from ports.

"Our ability to export food would be severely constrained through a combination of prohibitive tariffs, regulatory burdens, and logistical barriers. And, of course, without freedom of movement our service industry would face significant disruption and barriers to trade.

"Of huge concern to me is the effect a no deal exit would have on our most vulnerable communities who may not have the financial resilience to withstand the significant downturn in employment.

"Indeed I have relaunched my Private Member's Bill calling on the UK government to carry out an urgent and independent evaluation of the impact of Brexit on the UK’s vital health and social care sectors as we know that Brexit is already having a harmful impact on recruitment.

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"There is no doubt we now know the risks and impacts related to a no deal exit from the EU are likely to be wide-ranging and significant, cutting across a range of policies and operational matters and would affect all of Argyll and Bute, and even at that there are likely to be a number of issues where the impact may not arise until a later point.

"A no deal has the potential to generate an economic shock so significant it could tip the Scottish, and Argyll and Bute, economy into recession. There is the potential for the economy to contract by between 2.5 - 7 per cent and for unemployment to increase by 100,000."

Communities secretary Aileen Campbell said: “We always knew that Brexit could be damaging to Scotland, but this analysis lays out in stark terms how vulnerable communities across the country - urban and rural - are to its impact.

“As a responsible government, we will do what we can to mitigate and minimise its impact: this study only underlines the scale of that task and the recklessness of the UK Government in continuing to pursue Brexit at any cost.”

READ MORE: Take a look at all the latest news from around Helensburgh and Lomond here