National Islands Plan survey paints mixed picture of life in Scottish islands

Social research, conducted by the James Hutton Institute for the Scottish government’s National Islands Plan, has painted a mixed picture of life in Scotland’s islands.

While most respondents rate their local environment very highly and a majority indicate that they’re likely to remain in the islands for the next five years, challenges persist regarding housing, jobs, transport, fuel poverty, and speed and reliability of digital connections.

More than 4,000 residents of island’s; Argyll and Bute, Na h-Eileanan Siar, Highland, North Ayrshire, Orkney and Shetland, inputted responses, making this the largest survey of its kind.

A majority, 86 per cent of respondents, indicated they were likely to remain on their  island for the next five years.

However a majority of respondents had concerns regarding the opportunities and support available for young people and services available to help young people find and keep jobs.

Dr Ruth Wilson, lead author of the report, said: “The findings underline just how diverse our islands are. Life in one island can be experienced very differently from life in another, even where these islands are close by.

“The findings also show that the challenges facing a young person can be quite different from those facing an older person living in the same island group.

“This is a big step forward in understanding the realities of life across Scotland’s islands and improving the islands’ evidence base.”

Over transport Shetland Mainlanders were more positive about bus availability than outer islanders with 38 per cent of respondents agreeing that making connections between different forms of transport is easy.

Housing availability and affordability, fuel costs and digital and mobile phone reception were also listed as concerns.

Islands secretary Mairi Gougeon added: “The aim of the National Islands Plan is to improve the quality of life for island communities by showing them that they are very important to our nation, we care about their futures and that their voices are strong and being heard.

“The results of this report will be used to monitor the effectiveness of the implementation of the National Islands Plan and improve the availability of data held about Scotland’s islands.”

To read the full report click here.



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