Progress made on Scottish islands deal
Ministers Derek Mackay and Marco Biagi promised ongoing dialogue with the Western Isles, Shetland and Orkney councils as they develop their proposals for further powers for the Scottish islands
A devolved power deal for the Scottish islands is a step closer today, after progress was made in discussions between the Scottish Government and the three island councils.
Islands minister Derek Mackay and local government and community empowerment minister Marco Biagi met with representatives from Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, Shetland Islands Council and Orkney Islands Council in Lerwick for the final gathering of the Island Areas Ministerial Working Group (IAMWG) before the Scottish parliamentary election.
The ministers agreed to ongoing dialogue with the islands as they develop their proposals to increase local democracy and maximise their economic potential.
There were positive discussions on the potential for increasing local accountability for decisions on Crown Estate assets in the three council areas, the Scottish Government said.
Ministers have already confirmed that island and coastal councils will receive the net income from Crown Estate marine assets to 12 nautical miles after further powers are devolved through the Scotland Bill.
Speaking after the meeting, Derek Mackay said: “These meetings provide the opportunity to discuss the best way forward and I am grateful to each of the island councils for their collaborative approach in identifying how best to deliver a vision for inclusive economic growth for their areas.
“Focus and energy should be directed towards developing community-led solutions and bringing people much closer to the decisions which affect them - making the journey towards greater levels of integration will require public service partners to work closely with the island communities to understand the local outcomes they value most.”
Progress made by the group since it began meeting in August 2013 including publication of the Empowering Scotland’s Island Communities prospectus, the creation of a dedicated islands minister, the establishment of the Islands Transport Forum and consultation on a future islands bill.
Councillor Gary Robinson, Leader of Shetland Islands Council, said: “We will continue to contribute to the process of developing a deal for the islands and welcome the Scottish Government’s commitment to continuing dialogue on that critical issue.
“We have come a long way in a few years, and fully expect to see an islands bill come forward through the new parliament later this year which will strengthen our communities and put them at the forefront of Scottish life for the future.”
The results of the islands bill consultation are expected within the next few weeks.
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