Islands Bill receives backing from rural affairs committee

Written by Liam Kirkaldy on 22 January 2018 in News

In a new report MSPs endorsed the Islands Bill, but recommended the Scottish Government includes a provision to carry out an impact assessment where evidence suggests the existing law has a significant detrimental impact on the islands

New legislation aimed at providing greater focus on Scotland’s islands has received backing from MSPs on the Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee.

In a new report the committee endorsed the Islands Bill, but recommended the Scottish Government includes a provision to carry out an impact assessment where evidence suggests the existing law has a significant detrimental impact on the islands.

The committee also called for ministers to consult on the development of the National Islands Plan to help reflect the priorities of islanders themselves.

Committee Convener Edward Mountain said: “This bill is an enabling piece of legislation that will provide for future action by the Scottish Government. However, the committee believes that the Scottish Government will need to manage the expectations of islanders who may expect more immediate, tangible outcomes to be delivered.

“I am pleased to be part of a committee that sees the importance of engaging directly with rural and island communities. It was vital that our report on the Bill properly reflected the views and experiences of islanders.  That is why we visited Mull, Lewis, Harris and Orkney and held video conferences with other islands.

“A key recommendation from us is that the Scottish Government must likewise ensure its National Islands Plan, when brought forward, also properly reflects the actual priorities of islanders.

“To that end, our report recommends that the government adopts the widest possible consultation on the development of the National Islands Plan, and cautions that island impact assessments should not become a tick box exercise.             

“This committee supports the empowerment of island communities and stresses the importance of local decision making. Our report, therefore, calls for local authority level plans to be created that sit under the National Islands Plan.”

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