A historic bill designed to meet the unique needs of Scotland’s islands has been introduced to the Scottish Parliament.
The Islands (Scotland) Bill will help create the right environment for sustainable growth and empowered communities.
Islands Minister Humza Yousaf said:
“The SNP 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 include:
A requirement to ‘island proof’ future legislation and policies.
The creation of a National Islands Plan.
Greater flexibility around Councillor representation within island communities, with Arran to become a council ward in its own right.
Extended powers to island councils in relation to marine licensing
Kenneth Gibson welcomed the new bill:
"The Our Islands, Our Future campaign specifically asked for an act for our islands and it is gratifying to see this objective being realised.
“Island proofing is particularly important as evidenced by the unique nature of life on our islands, including Arran and Cumbrae in my own constituency.
"The cross-party Local Government and Communities Committee - of which I am one of the seven members and the only member to represent island communities - will scrutinise this important legislation to ensure that it delivers for all of Scotland's island communities, including Arran and Cumbrae."