Shetland can no longer be put in a box – as of today.
Sections of the new Islands (Scotland) Act come into force, after being granted Royal Assent on 6th July.
Among the provisions are a Shetland mapping requirement, which means the isles must be accurately represented on official maps – and no longer included “in a box”.
It also provides for changes to the electoral representation of island communities – with greater flexibility around councillor representation of island communities to allow for one or two member wards.
Isles MSP Tavish Scott said: “There is no excuse now for the Scottish government, its agencies or others to put Shetland in a box. The box is closed.
“It doesn’t exist, whether that be in the Moray Firth or east of Orkney. Shetland is now in the right place. It is ridiculous that I had to change the law to make this happen but so be it.
“This Islands Act must go a whole lot further. Islands proofing – ensuring the islands are recognised in any law or government regulation – must work.
“There are too many cases right now where that is not happening, such as the government imposing car parking charges on lifeline airports where there is no public transport alternative.
“For the Islands Act to be worth the parchment it’s written on, these things must change.”
Islands Minister Paul Wheelhouse said: “The Scottish Islands have contributed and continue to contribute hugely to our culture and heritage and, with this Act now starting to take force, will now have the opportunity to contribute even further to their own and our collective futures.
“They have very distinctive needs so the Act introduces a number of measures to ensure there is a sustained focus across government and the wider public sector to meet the needs of island communities now and in the future.
“On a more visual front, it ensures Shetland will no longer be ‘boxed off’ on maps which has been a cause of irritation to those living in Shetland.
“When producing a map of Scotland, the Shetland Islands must therefore be displayed in a way that accurately and proportionately represents their geographical location in relation to the rest of Scotland.
“It introduces a new duty on Scottish ministers and the wider public sector to have regard to island communities when exercising their functions and preparing policy, strategies, services and legislation – known as “island-proofing”.
“And the National Islands Plan will also be produced which, amongst other things, gives us a strategic direction to improve outcomes for our islands by creating the right environment for investment, empowerment and increasing sustainable economic growth.”