'Historic' Island bill passed by MSPs

James Rose

MSPs have unanimously backed legislation to offer greater protection and power to Scotland's island communities.

The Islands (Scotland) Bill gives councils extra powers over actvities on and around their coastlines and requires ministers to have a long-term plan for improvement.

The bill includes the creation of a "national islands plan". This will extend powers for councils over areas such as marine licensing.

There is also an amendment that will prevent public bodies from putting Shetland in a box on maps of Scotland.

Islands minister Humza Yousaf described the billĀ as "an important milestone for island communities".

In the final debate, Mr Yousaf said the bill was "unique", as "one of the world's first and only place-based laws".

He said: "That is entirely fitting for our islands, which contribute so much to our culture, our landscape, our heritage, which have inspired poets, songwriters, composers, artists, and which attract visitors from near and afar.

"They have contributed hugely to our past and our present, and with this bill and other measures will now have the opportunity to contribute even further to their own and our collective futures."