New islands bill introduced to Scottish Parliament

A new islands bill has been introduced to Scottish Parliament – hailed as a “historic milestone” for island communities by islands minister Humza Yousaf.

The Scottish government said The Islands (Scotland) Bill will help to create the right environment for “sustainable growth and empowered communities”.

Among its measures is the creation of a “National Islands Plan”.  This must be prepared by ministers to show their main goals to help island communities and how they will do it.

When preparing the plan ministers will also have to consult with people they believe represent the interests of island communities and those affected by its proposals.

The first plan must come before Scottish Parliament within 12 months of the act coming into force.

The Scottish government said other measures will include:

• A requirement to ‘island proof’ future legislation and policies
• Greater flexibility around councillor representation within island communities – rather than needing the usual three or four councillors per electoral ward for areas covering largely one or more inhabited islands. This could be one or two.
• Extended powers to island councils in relation to marine licensing.

Future management of the Crown Estate, which has been a hot topic previously, will “be taken forward through a separate Crown Estate bill,” according to the paperwork attached with the islands bill.

A planning system which “responds to local distinctiveness” will also be covered in a separate planning bill, the Scottish government has said.

Mr Yousaf said: “This government is committed to promoting islands’ voices, to harnessing islands’ resources and enhancing their well-being. The measures in this bill underpin this ambition.”

He said the provision to ‘island-proof’ decision-making across the public sector would mean the interests of islanders were reflected in future legislation and policy.

“The National Islands Plan will set out the strategic direction for supporting island communities, continuing the momentum generated by the ‘Our Islands Our Future’ campaign and the work of the Islands Strategic Group.

“This is the first ever bill for Scotland’s islands, marking an historic milestone for our island communities. I am proud and privileged as Islands Minister to be guiding the bill through Scotland’s Parliament. ”

• More in Friday’s Shetland Times


Add Your Comment
  • Michael Garriock

    • June 12th, 2017 14:23

    What a pile of pointless waffle that has no other purpose than give Holyrood something to point at and say, “we tried”.

    Until and unless Holyrood finally accepts each island group is distinctly different from mainland Scotland and distinctly different from each other, and, that no island is merely a piece of the rest of Scotland with a strip of water between the two. The SNP are going to continue to lose elections in Shetland, and the best their attempts will succeed in doing is making life a bit better in one island group at the cost of making it equally worse in another one.

    The Northern Isles have absolutely nothing in common with the Western Isles unless a few accidents of geography.

    Seperate but similar Northern Isles and Western Isles bills might manage to achieve some sort of benefits for both, but a single bill for both will either have to be so vague it can achieve nothing of worth, or it will be a millstone around the necks of all.

    • Christopher Lavelle

      • June 12th, 2017 22:51

      So giving islands more autonomy and planning power hinders island Identity how?

  • Robert Sim

    • June 13th, 2017 17:53

    This is an excellent step forward and puts in place the high-level legislation which will help policy to have an “island focus” in future. I see that ministers will also have to consult further with the different communities as they draw up the first Islands Plan and that will make the Plan more individualised as between the different island groups. Also good to see the excellent work of Our Islands Our Future bearing fruit.

    • John Tulloch

      • June 14th, 2017 10:38

      The only thing “bearing fruit” is the wisdom of the Shetland and Orkney electorates in roundly rejecting the SNP in the 2014 independence referendum and the elections of 2015, 2016 and now, 2017.

      Not to mention the rejection by the Scottish people of “Indyref2”. If Indyref2 was happening we would not be seeing any of this.

      Nicola Sturgeon has been forced to change course. The Scottish people have marked her card. She must now get back to “doing the day job” which the SNP has been found out making a mess of.

      No more “Braveheart”. No more phoney “Time for change.”

      • Robert Sim

        • June 14th, 2017 12:08

        You’ve lost the plot, John. This legislation has got nothing whatsoever to do with the last General Election or how the SNP has or hasn’t performed in Orkney and Shetland or Shetland alone. It’s the product of a lengthy period of planning and negotiation, especially with the OIOF team. That’s how progress is made in the real world.

        It also shows the devolved administration absolutely “doing the day job” – which it has been all along, of course: the nonsensical idea that it hasn’t is simply a soundbite plugged long and loud by the opposition parties to cover up their own lack of policies for Scotland. I am disappointed that you can’t bring yourself to welcome the SNP administration doing something positive for those who stay up here.

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