Have your say on Islands Bill proposals

Islands Minister Derek Mackay with school pupils in front of Callanish Stones
Norette Ferns

The Scottish Government has launched a consultation to seek views on plans for more power and protection for Scotland’s islands.

The Consultation for Provision for a Future Islands Bill launched on 29 September and will run until 23 December 2015.

Proposals that could see additional powers, stronger representation at Holyrood and the creation of a National Islands Plan were published by the Scottish Government recently.

The consultation will seek views on:

  • Island-Proofing – whether a legal duty should be placed on Ministers and relevant public bodies to ‘island-proof’ their functions and decisions
  • Empowering Island Communities – what additional powers and functions could be passed to island councils to benefit or better protect the island communities they serve
  • National Islands Plan – whether a legal duty should be placed on all future Scottish Governments to prepare a ‘National Islands Plan’, setting out on-going commitments across all policy areas of Government to support, promote and empower our island communities
  • Statutory protection for the Na h-Eileanan an lar Scottish parliamentary constituency boundary
  • Local Government Electoral Wards – whether the Local Government Boundary Commission in Scotland should have discretion to recommend wards with less than three councillors so that populated islands are not placed in an electoral ward that contains a significant proportion of mainland population

Islands Minister Derek Mackay visited Stornoway to discuss the aspirations of the bill with Higher Modern Studies pupils from The Nicolson Institute before visiting the iconic island attraction of the Standing Stones of Callanish.

Speaking from the Western Isles, Mr Mackay said:

“This is the start of a conversation with our island communities, councils and wider stakeholders about what a future bill may look like – and who better to inform these decisions than the very people who live, work and study there.

“Scotland’s islands have proud traditions, with rich and vibrant cultures. They contribute so much to the fabric of Scotland as a nation. From Harris Tweed in the Western Isles to the famous Whisky distilleries in Islay, Scotland’s islands are renowned across the world.

“With the appointment of the first Government Islands Minister there can be no doubt of the Scottish Government’s on-going commitment to our island communities. Over the summer I had the opportunity to visit a number of island communities and hear first-hand from islanders about the challenges, but also about the opportunities of island life.

“I therefore see the launch of today’s consultation as the next step in helping inform the Government’s work for a more prosperous and fairer future for our island communities. This consultation is an ideal opportunity for ideas to be shared before any decisions are made on what future legislation might look like.”

Visit the Scottish Government consultation website to see the proposals and take part in the consultation.