Island voices to be heard
National consultation to empower island residents.
Island communities are being encouraged to help shape the policies that affect them.
A national consultation will inform the development of the first ever National Islands Plan, asking island residents to share opinions on the specific challenges they face – such as population retention, connectivity, economic development, housing, and transport links.
Local people will also be asked to share the positives of island life, and examples of good practice where policy works well, so that the Plan takes into account all aspects of life in some of Scotland’s most remote communities.
Commenting on the consultation launch during a visit to Canna in the Inner Hebrides, Islands Minister, Paul Wheelhouse, said:
“The passage of the first ever Act of Parliament aimed specifically at islanders’ needs and the positive contributions made to Scotland by our islands marked an historic milestone for our island communities. This included providing formal recognition of their unique characteristics and challenges, and tailoring policy to support our islands effectively.
“Now we are asking residents and other stakeholders what their concerns are, and where we should be focussing resources in future to help our islands and all who live on them flourish.
“This is an opportunity for us to develop a strategic direction for optimising support to island communities, taking into account factors like ageing populations, public service provision, biodiversity and enhancing skillsets. Of course, it’s also about working closely with local authorities and partner agencies to find and build on the undoubted positives associated with island life. We also want to learn lessons from policy successes that have been achieved across island communities.
“I’m delighted to be able to launch the consultation here on the beautiful island of Canna and I sincerely hope that this consultation helps to promote island voices, to harness island resources and the talents of islanders, and provide the best future for these important communities that in so many ways constitute the best of Scotland.”
The National Islands Plan will be delivered to the Scottish Parliament by 4 October 2019. The consultation focusses on two key elements within the Act:
- The National Islands Plan
- Island Communities Impact Assessment.
The Consultation on a National Islands Plan and Island Communities Impact Assessment Guidance is open until 6 July 2019:
Views are also being sought on the development of new assessments which will aim to ensure policies that are likely to have a significantly different effect on islanders compared to other communities are ‘island proofed’.
The Islands (Scotland) Act 2018 was granted Royal Assent last July with the first set of provisions coming into force on 4 October 2019. The Act introduces a number of measures to underpin the Scottish Government’s key objective of ensuring that there is a sustained focus across Government and public sector to meet the needs of island communities now and in the future.