Historic islands bill introduced
The Islands (Scotland) Bill aims to create the right environment for sustainable growth and empowered communities
Humza Yousaf: Picture credit - Scottish Government
An historic bill designed to meet the unique needs of Scotland’s islands has been introduced to the Scottish Parliament.
The Scottish Government said the Islands (Scotland) Bill will help create the right environment for sustainable growth and empowered communities.
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Islands Minister Humza 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.
“In particular, the provision to ‘island-proof’ decision-making across the public sector will ensure the interests of islanders are reflected in future legislation and policy from the very outset.
“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. ”
Measures in the bill will include:
- A requirement to ‘island proof’ future legislation and policies
- The creation of a National Islands Plan
- Statutory protection for the Na h-Eileanan an lar Scottish parliamentary constituency boundary
- Greater flexibility around Councillor representation within island communities
- Extended powers to island councils in relation to marine licencing
Leader of Orkney Islands Council, James Stockan, welcomed the publication of the bill.
He said: “The Our Islands, Our Future campaign specifically asked for an act for the islands in 2013 and it is gratifying to see this objective being realised.
“Island proofing is particularly important as evidenced by Orkney Islands Council’s substantive response to the Scottish Government’s consultation.
“We were able to amply demonstrate numerous cases where legislation had been detrimental to Orkney and which could have been avoided if island proofing had taken place.”
Councillor Stockan added: “But our work is not complete. We will be working tirelessly with Scottish Government to ensure that there is an objective standard by which decisions over whether to conduct an Islands Communities Assessment are made and also how the legislation will be interpreted.”
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