Category Archives: Uncategorised

S.I.F. awarded Scottish Government funding

S.I.F. awarded Scottish Government funding!

The Scottish Islands Federation has been awarded £18.500  by the Scottish government, a sum which will allow its voluntary board to employ the staff it requires to fulfil its ambitious targets.

Federation chair Camille Dressler said: “we warmly thank the Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs, Food and Environment, Richard Lochhead MSP, for his recognition of the part that the Scottish Islands Federation has played in helping to raise islands needs and issues at all levels of governance. We are now looking forward to promote a greater engagement of island grassroots organisations in all the issues that are important to them, and help and help them make their islands leaders in low carbon, sustainable communities.”

Michael Russell , MSP for Argyll & Bute which has more inhabited islands than any other Scottish constituency, and invited the Scottish Islands Federation to the Scottish Parliament in 2013,  said : ‘ I am delighted that the Scottish Government has recognised the importance of the Scottish Islands Federation and the work that is done to bring together those who live and work on the islands in order to share experiences and find ways of moving forward.   The links that exist with islands in other parts of Europe are also important and the collaborations on energy, employment, tourism and other issues that are already arising are pointing interesting ways forward,.   The Scottish Government knows that islands need special support and this grant is not only proves that point, but also opens the door to new possibilities.”

The Scottish Islands Federation is now recruiting staff to carry out the tasks agreed with the Rural Communities team. A description of the job and its responsibilities can be found here.

 

EU resolution on islands signals positive change

NEW EU resolution on islands passed on 4 February 2016

Article 174 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) recognises the special nature of island territories. However, very few concrete EU measures have aimed to support islands to date. Several insular regions and municipalities call for the development of an ‘insular dimension’ in EU policies, and for EU regional policy to take insularity factors, that affect them disproportionately, into account. They also claim that due to the European Commission’s established method of regional funding – based on GDP – certain islands and insular territories are severely penalised.

The Scottish Islands Federation hopes this may change if the measures proposed by the new resolution on islands  (see  below) are implemented:   the resolution calls  for new statistical indicators besides GDP  that can reflect the economic and social vulnerability arising from being an island territory.  An island desk, special financial instruments aimed at islands, an agenda for the islands, a White paper to monitor the situation,  a European Year for Islands and Mountains are amongst other welcome proposals to ensure that the island situation is considered as it should.

However, such resolutions have to be supported by all EU member states. Therein lie the problem of the Scottish Islands: the UK government cares little for its island territories and will care even less if voters decide to leave the EU.

European Parliament resolution of 4 February 2016 on the special situation of islands (2015/3014(RSP))

The European Parliament,

  • –  having regard to Articles 174 and 175 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU),
  • –  having regard to Regulation (EU) No 1301/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 December 2013, on the European Regional Development Fund and on specific provisions concerning the Investment for growth and jobs goal and repealing Regulation (EC) No 1080/2006,
  • –  having regard to Regulation (EU) No 1303/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 December 2013 laying down common provisions on the European Regional Development Fund, the European Social Fund, the Cohesion Fund, the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund and laying down general provisions on the European Regional Development Fund, the European Social Fund, the Cohesion Fund and the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund and repealing Council Regulation (EC) No 1083/2006,
  • –  having regard to Regulation (EU) No 1305/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 December 2013 on support for rural development by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) and repealing Council Regulation (EC) No 1698/2005,
  • –  having regard to the Commission’s Sixth Report on Economic, Social and Territorial Cohesion (COM(2014)0473),
  • –  having regard to the European Economic and Social Committee’s opinion on ‘Specific problems facing islands’ (1229/2011),
  • –  having regard to the question to the Commission on the insularity condition (O-000013/2016 – B8-0106/2016),
  • –  having regard to Rules 128(5) and 123(2) of its Rules of Procedure,
  1. whereas islands, classified as NUTS-2 and NUTS-3 regions, have common and permanent specific features, which clearly distinguish them from mainland areas;
  2. whereas Article 174 of the TFEU recognises the permanent natural and geographical handicaps specific to the situation of islands;
  3. whereas the reduction in economic, social and environmental disparities between regions and polycentric harmonious development are the main objectives of cohesion policy, in close connection with achieving the objectives of the Europe 2020 strategy;
  4. whereas the economic crisis has impacted dramatically on the national and regional budgets of many Member States by limiting the availability of financing in many sectors and leading to a 20 % collapse of public investment; whereas, as also pointed out in the Sixth Report on Economic, Social and Territorial Cohesion, the impact of the crisis has seriously affected the potential development of many disadvantaged regions, including islands; whereas the economic crisis has reversed the long-term trend of convergence of GDP and unemployment rates across the EU, resulting in increased poverty and social exclusion and preventing the achievement of the Union’s long-term objective of economic and territorial cohesion;
  5. whereas EU islands are also peripheral regions situated in some cases on the EU’s external borders and are particularly vulnerable to the challenges which Europe is currently facing, such as globalisation, demographic trends, climate change, energy supply and, especially for the southern areas, exposure to increasing migration flows;
  6. whereas European islands contribute to the diversity of the Union in both environmental terms (specific habitats and endemic species) and cultural terms (architectural heritage, sites, landscapes, agricultural and non-agricultural features and geographical identities);
  7. whereas European islands can contribute to strengthening sustainable development in the Union, given their high potential for producing energy from renewable sources due to specific exposure to wind streams, ocean swell and sunlight;
  8. whereas the accessibility of regions and connections within islands are key factors in making island areas more attractive for skilled workers and businesses; whereas there is a need to attract investment, to create new jobs and to reduce maritime and air transport costs for people and goods, in accordance with the principle of territorial continuity, while also making efforts to reduce emissions and pollution deriving from maritime and air transport;
  9. whereas agriculture, breeding and fisheries constitute an important element of local island economies, which are a source of supply for a significant part of the agro-industrial sector, and whereas these sectors suffer due to lack of accessibility, particularly for SMEs, a low level of product differentiation, and climate conditions;
  10. whereas intensive tourism is, for most islands, an important part of their local economy but tends normally to be concentrated only in certain periods of the year and not adequately planned outside the season, and this may entail risks for the environmentally sustainable development of island regions;
  1. Encourages the Commission to provide a clear definition of the type of geographical, natural and demographic permanent handicaps that insular regions can suffer from, with reference to Article 174 of the TFEU;
  2. Asks the Commission how it intends to implement the wording of Article 174 of the TFEU regarding the permanent handicaps of insular regions that hinder their natural development and prevent them from achieving economic, social and territorial cohesion;
  3. Recognises the importance of providing support to tackle the significant depopulation trend in island regions; recalls that certain handicaps are more difficult to cope with for islands, in proportion to their small size and their remoteness from the European continental coasts;
  4. Requests that the Commission launch an in-depth study/analysis on the extra costs incurred as a result of being islands, in terms of the transport system for people and goods, energy supply and access to markets, in particular for SMEs;
  5. Is of the opinion that islands should have a proper definition/categorisation that will take into account not only their differences and specificities but also their specific situation; invites the Commission, on the basis of Article 174 of the TFEU, which recognises the special situation of islands, to set up a homogeneous group made up of all island territories; calls on the Commission, furthermore, to take into account, besides GDP, other statistical indicators that can reflect the economic and social vulnerability arising from natural permanent handicaps;
  6. Recalls that, in accordance with Council Directive 2006/112/EC, certain European islands have been granted special tax arrangements as a counterbalance to their natural and demographic permanent handicaps; stresses the importance of those special tax arrangements for local communities and economies, and calls for their continuation, especially in those Member States that are under economic adjustment programmes;
  7. Recalls especially the need for better connectivity through maritime routes, improved access to ports and better air transport services; considers that particular emphasis should be placed on transport hubs, inter-modal transport and sustainable mobility; stresses also the need to support balanced territorial development of island regions by promoting innovation and competiveness in these regions, which are remote from the major administrative and economic centres and do not benefit from ease of access to transport, and by strengthening local production for local markets;
  8. Stresses that digital capacity is a vital means of counterbalancing the connectivity handicaps of island regions; emphasises that investments in infrastructure are required in order to ensure broadband access on islands and the full participation of islands in the digital single market;
  9. Recalls that many islands in the Mediterranean have seen huge numbers of migrants arriving and are having to deal with this situation; underlines the need for a holistic EU approach, which should include EU support and a joint effort by all Member States;
  10. Underlines the importance of providing education at all levels, where necessary also by making more use of distance education systems; recalls that islands are also facing serious

climate change impacts, with particularly serious consequences, including increasing numbers of natural hazards;

  1. Emphasises that, while islands face constraints, they also benefit from a territorial potential, which should be used as an opportunity for development, growth and job creation; stresses the importance of low tax and red tape reduction policies as key incentives for attracting investment; mentions, in this context, the development of sustainable tourism in addition to seasonal tourism, focusing on the promotion of cultural heritage and specific artisanal economic activities; stresses also the huge potential of ocean, wind and solar energy and the potential of islands to become important sources of alternative energy, to be as energy-autonomous as possible and, above all, to guarantee cheaper energy supplies for their inhabitants;
  2. Stresses, in this connection, the importance of using all possible synergies between the European Structural and Investment Funds and other Union instruments with a view to counterbalancing the handicaps of islands and enhancing their economic growth, job creation and sustainable development situation;
  3. Calls on the Commission to establish an ‘EU Strategic Framework for Islands’ with a view to linking up instruments that can have a major territorial impact;
  4. Calls on the Member States and regional and local authorities to play an important role in the development strategies of islands on the basis of a vertical approach that involves all levels of government, in accordance with the principle of subsidiarity, with a view to ensuring the sustainable development of EU islands;
  5. Suggests that the Commission establish an ‘islands desk’ linked to the Commission’s Directorate-General for Regional and Urban Policy (DG REGIO) and made up of a small group of officials in order to coordinate and analyse issues relating to island regions;
  6. Calls on the Commission to submit a communication containing an ‘Agenda for EU Islands’ and, subsequently, a White Paper to monitor the development of islands, based on best practice and involving local, regional and national authorities and other relevant actors, including economic and social partners and representatives of civil society;
  7. Calls on the Commission to propose a European Year of Islands and Mountains;
  8. Invites the Commission to bear in mind the specific situation of islands when preparing the proposal for the next multiannual financial framework;
  9. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the Committee of the Regions and the Member States.

Development Officer Post for S.I.F. – job description

Scottish Islands Federation Development Officer Post 

JOB DESCRIPTION 

1-year part-time (about 22 hr/wk), with the possibility of extension

April 2016 – March 2017.

based on the equivalent of full-time salary in range £18k – £21k

 Main aims of post

 Reporting to the board of the Scottish Islands Federation you will develop and consolidate the organization by:

  • increasing the membership of and support for the Scottish Islands Federation.
  • being the first contact for the Scottish Islands Federation.
  • developing quality communication with members, politicians and the wider public.
  • providing administrative support to the board of the Scottish Islands Federation.
  • delivering the activities of the Scottish Islands Federation.
  • assisting in financial planning and keeping records.
  • overseeing the updating of existing energy audits and encouraging other islands to take up energy auditing.

Subject to further funding:

  • managing the delivery of the Island Electric Vehicle Transport pilot project to promote the use of electric vehicles on islands.
  • working with partners on delivery of INTERREG EUROPE project on Entrepreneurship.

Responsibilities

 As the Development Officer for the Scottish Islands Federation you will, in liaison with the Board, be responsible for:

Planning

  • contributing to the strategic planning process for the development of the Scottish Islands Federation and its activities.
  • ensuring the board of the Scottish Islands Federation are kept fully up to date with progress of planning activities.
  • (subject to funding) planning the delivery of the Island Electric Vehicle Transport pilot project.
  • planning budgets as required.

Membership

  • actively making contact with island communities and encouraging membership.
  • encouraging bodies at every level of governance (local government, national government) and relevant public and private organisations to become associate members.

Income generation and finance

  • delivering a programme of events & activities that produce useful development opportunities for island communities as well as generate income.
  • identifying and delivering funding opportunities to support the work of the Scottish Islands Federation, and secure its financial future.
  • managing budgets and keeping proper accounts in liaison with the board of the Scottish Islands Federation.
  • planning and managing the evaluation of the outcomes of events and activities, including submission of monitoring and evaluation reports to funding bodies.

Service delivery

  • organising, in liaison with the Chair, board meetings, the AGM and other meetings, and taking and circulating minutes.
  • maintaining and developing the Scottish Islands Federation website and social media. and producing quarterly newsletters.to communicate with members, governments (local, national, EU), other European island groups and the wider public.
  • acting as the first contact for the membership, external bodies and the media.
  • ensuring the Scottish Islands Federation delivers an outstanding service to its membership.
  • reviewing feedback of all kinds (including internet based feedback) from members and others to ensure service improvements are continually made.
  • developing an inclusive and welcoming culture as a trademark of the Scottish Islands Federation.
  • building constructive and open working relationships with the board and other staff.
  • other tasks subject to further funding.

 Island development

  • communicate with island organisations and visit if appropriate to identify, discuss and research issues of current importance for island communities, devising and using surveys, analysing and evaluating results, and producing reports.
  • represent the Scottish Islands Federation at meetings and manage relationships with the media and external stakeholders, including at national level.
  • participate in project work with wider partnerships, including the Island Electric Vehicle Transport pilot project.
  • compile reports as required to the board and for the Scottish Government.

Skills – to evidence on application (A) and at interview (I)

Essential skills

  •  previous practical experience of similar roles (A)
  • track record of fundraising and income generation (A)
  • motivated to engage and involve communities with a track record of creating success through this involvement (I)
  • good ‘fit’ with the culture of island communities (I)
  • good project and budget management skills (A)
  • good working knowledge of office software and its applications, of social media and of maintaining and developing a website (A)

Desirable skills

  • knowledge of business and marketing plans (A)
  • preparation of funding applications (A)
  • have a track record in community consultation, engagement and involvement (I)
  • have experience of / interest in PR, event management, and use of Facebook and other social media to communicate to a wider public (A)

Working hours and environment

  • work flexibly to deliver the requirements of the contract, including weekends and public holidays if necessary.
  • preferably based on an island near a major island transport hub such as Oban or in such a hub itself, to facilitate visits to island communities.
  • work from a convenient home base as above and/or a hot desk in an island office to be negotiated with the successful candidate, including the provision of office equipment.
  • full driving licence and access to a suitable vehicle essential.

Completed letters of application and CV should be sent by email to Alastair Fleming (SIF director):alastair@atlanticislandscentre.com.

If you add a read receipt your application will be acknowledged as received.

Closing date: 14 April 2016 at 18.00. Interviews for short-listed applicants will be held in Oban in the week beginning 25 April 2016.

SIF showcased at Switch to Renewables Conference in Somerset.

SWITCH TO RENEWABLES: an inspirational seminar in Somerset

Planning, Policy and Finance to enable carbon reduction - Local Regional and European Perspectives Seminar.
SIF chair in the centre with speakers from Frome, Murrhardt and Chateau Gonthier.

On 4 and 5 March, Frome town council in Somerset organised an innovative and inspirational seminar on how to switch to a low carbon economy.

SIF Chair Camille Dressler presented the case of Eigg’s green grid and Mull and Iona’s sustainable transport initiative as inspirational Scottish Islands examples.

Other Case studies were from Frome, Germany, France and Poland, where Frome town council has twinning partners.

Prof Keith Barnham (Solar Revolution), presented a fascinating comparison of what has happened in Germany in terms of exponential renewable development and what could have happened to the UK if the Feed in Tariff and other encouraging measures had not been cut.

To see his presentation and others, click here.

Islanders celebrate South of Arran MPA

South Of Arran MPA finally comes into effect along with 13 other MPAs.

Following 5 years of campaigning,  islanders celebrate the birth of the long awaited South Arran MPA.

Representatives from coastal communities, scallop divers, sea anglers and conservation organisations showed their passion and support for MPAs at Holyrood last month, coinciding with a Rural Affairs Committee debate on the future of MPAs. To the delight of thousands of MPA supporters on Arran and throughout Scotland, the committee voted against a motion to annul MPAs by Jamie McGrigor (cons) MSP by seven votes to two.

COAST‘s Andrew Binnie said: ‘The Scottish Government’s refusal to buckle to scaremongering from the mobile prawn lobby (also debunked in Scottish Environment LINK paper) means the South Arran MPA came into effect on 8th February 2016 along with legislation for a further 13 MPAs including the St Kilda World Heritage Site MPA. We are celebrating on Arran this week and looking forward to healthier and more productive seas around Arran and Scotland. This will benefit all marine stakeholders and future generations‘.

New Arran MPA Marine Discovery Centre scheduled

The South Arran MPA prohibits scallop dredging but still allows bottom trawling in outer areas of the MPA. Apart from in the existing small No Take Zone in Lamlash Bay, sea angling is permitted within the entire area as well as all other recreational activities.
As community and visitor surveys have shown a real demand for a Marine Discovery Centre on Arran, COAST is now fundraising to make this project come true.

Delay for the Small Isles MPA.

Mr Lochhead, the Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs also announced that the Wester Ross and Loch Sunart to Sound of Jura Marine Conservation Orders went before parliament on 5th of February, meaning they will come into effect in late March.

Disappointingly, the Small Isles MPA will go back out to consultation and will now be delayed until at least the summer.

Dave Thompson SNP MSP for Skye and Lochalsh has written to Marine Scotland’s Marine Protection Area (MPA) Consultation strongly supporting the submission on the Small Isles MPA from the Mallaig and North West Fishermen’s Association.

Mr Thompson said, ‘I strongly support the modest changes to the Small Isles MPA that the MNWFA are requesting. These changes will mitigate the economic impact on the west’s fishermen of the MPA fishing restriction, but will not endanger any marine features.’

The Small Isles Community Council will in the meantime continue to support the proposals as they stand: ‘The Sound of Canna Fan Mussel colony is probably the most important wildlife asset in the Small Isles, at least on a par with the Manx Shearwater colony on Rum. It is a community asset and the feelings of the local community that support it should be respected. There is a national and an international responsibility to protect it and it will bring pride as well as economic benefits to the local area including the Small Isles by attracting a new strand of wildlife tourism.’

 

 

Consultation on Provisions for a Future Islands Bill

 A more prosperous and fairer future for island communities ?

In September 2015, Transport and Islands Minister Derek MacKay MSP  launched a consultation to seek the views of island communities and other interested stakeholders on potential measures that may be included within a future Islands Bill.

Consulting on potential measures for inclusion in such a future bill is part of the work undertaken by the  re-convened Island Areas Ministerial Working Group to implement as many of the commitments from the ‘Empowering Scotland’s Island Communities’ prospectus as possible within the existing powers of the Scottish Parliament.

Commitment to the principle of subsidiarity and local decision making are said to be at the heart of this consultation which will help inform the Government’s thinking about what additional measures may be needed to help shape a more prosperous and fairer future for  island communities.

Interested stakeholders are invited to respond with their views on plans for more power and protection for Scotland’s islands.

 Island Proofing

Island proofing is the first topic in the consultation. The Scottish Islands Federation heartily welcomes the introduction of this concept as they have long campaigned for its introduction at all level of government, including the EU.

Empowering the islands

The commitments contained  in the  ‘Empowering Scotland’s Island Communities’ prospectus and in the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act have made clear the Scottish Government’s support for the principles of subsidiarity.

However, what form would devolved power to the island take? The Scottish Islands Federation would like to see more power to island development trusts, island community Councils and island community benefit organisation alongside councils.  The vision contained within the 3 island councils’ document Our Islands, Our future’ is far reaching, but it may not have reach grass roots organisations as much as it should have.

The SIF would also like parity for councils with islands, as many its members are situated in the Argyll and Bute Council area, and A&B council, add well as Highland and North Ayrshire have yet to be invited to be part of the discussions which have taken place  with   the 3 island councils.

Giving islands more powers over the seabed surrounding them would be a great start in any case. More power to protect their fragile environment, marine and otherwise would also be very desirable.

A national plan for islands

One of the proposals for enshrining within a future Islands Act is the possibility of a duty for all future Scottish Governments to prepare a ‘National Islands Plan’, which would set out an on-going range of commitments across all policy areas of Government to support, promote and empower Island communities to build a wealthier and fairer future for themselves.

Linked to this duty, it would also be proposed that Ministers would have the ability to issue statutory guidance on island-proofing, which relevant public bodies would require to have regard to in connection with the exercising of their functions and duties.

The idea of national plan linked to statutory guidance on island proofing  is  measure that the Scottish Islands Federation is strongly supporting.  it would ensure that the challenging aspects of island life would be considered in detail and a better understanding of island live would be achieved, to ensure transport, education, health and all other fundamental areas of island life met island rather than mainland targets.

Constituency Protection for Na h-Eileanan an Iar

There is no doubt that the Western isles should enjoy the same status and constituency protection as the Orkney and Shetland councils.

Local Government Electoral Wards – populated Islands

This is a chance to address the thorny  issue of parity of representation with mainland areas. There is no one size fits all solution here, and some flexibility is required to ensure that populated islands have as a good a representation as they can.

Deadline for response: 23 December 2015

Here is a link to:

The consultation document

Argyll and Bute Council submission

Highland Council submission

Orkney Council submission

Shetland Council submission

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar submission

The Scottish Islands Federation response
1. Is the concept of ‘Island-Proofing’ something the Scottish Government should consider placing in legislation through the proposed Islands Bill? Yes

The islands across Scotland should have their permanent geographical handicap acknowledged in the law of Scotland, in the same way that islands, mountain areas and sparsely populated areas have their permanent natural or demographic handicap acknowledged by the Lisbon Treaty of Lisbon under Article 174 alongside an identification of the need to pay particular attention to these regions.

This means in practice that when considering any proposal, care should be taken as to check whether they are likely to adversely impact or disadvantage island areas, and if so, whether any mitigation measures or amendments are required to ensure that all of the islands around Scotland remain vibrant and viable communities which can compete with the rest of Scotland for new businesses, residents and visitors.

For the purpose of the law, isolated, rural peninsulas and some coastal areas adjacent to islands should also be considered to suffer from similar disadvantage so that any amendments or mitigation should also extended to these areas to ensure equality with their island neighbours.

Island proofing and rural proofing should go hand in hand.

2. If you answered ‘Yes’ to question 1, do you agree that Scottish Ministers should have the power to issue statutory guidance to other relevant public bodies related to Island-Proofing which they would be required to adhere to in exercising their functions and duties.

Yes

Island proofing should be considered at all levels of policy and decision making as islands clearly suffer from the “one size fits all” policies that do not met the requirements of their communities and may even affect negatively their economic and social well-being.

There should therefore be a requirement for statutory guidance on island-proofing processes to ensure that decisions on service delivery can be made with an awareness of the implications for island communities so that they are not specifically disadvantaged, and that on the contrary, decisions can lead to an increase of stability and economic viability for island populations.

3 If you answered ‘Yes’ to question 2, please state which public bodies, and what specific decisions this statutory guidance you think this should relate to?

All public bodies should be included, in particular Marine Scotland, Scottish Natural Heritage, Highland and Island Enterprise, Local Authorities, NHS boards, Police Scotland, Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, Community Planning partners.

Non ministerial government departments and Advisory bodies, Public corporations (Scottish Water, Highlands and Islands Airports) and Executive agencies such Transport Scotland, Historic Environment Scotland, and Third sector inferface organisations (Housing associations and the like) should also be included in this list.

4. Are there any other areas that you feel the policy of Island-Proofing should cover?

The Scottish Government also needs to take into consideration the interests of the islands when negotiating with the UK government and the EU Commission, particularly when it comes to the Renewable Energy sector and the promotion of investment in electricity interconnections and removal of charges that are discriminatory against remote areas, eg high transmission charges, electricity price regulation in general (OFGEM) or the distribution of European Structural social funds. The Scottish government should also supporting local authorities with island responsibility and island councils to join in the Pact of islands and ensure a strong coalition of islands at the forefront of carbon reduction.

At EU level, The Scottish government needs to support a revision of state aid rules where they hamper transport links or social and economic activity on the islands, or a revision of state aid rules and measures to take into account the specific issues of food production on the smaller islands – especially meat production.

Another useful action would be to bring forward legislation, in accordance with Article 32 of EU Regulation 1151/2012*, which would create a new optional reserved term “product of island farming” to promote products whose raw material comes from or whose processing takes place on an island.

5. Do you agree that the current powers Island Councils, and Councils with Island responsibilities presently have are sufficient to deliver positive outcomes for their local island communities?

No

6.If you answered ‘No’ to question 5, please outline what additional powers you feel they require to benefit or better protect the island communities they serve, and explain the reasons for your answer.

The ownership and management of the seabed round the islands should not be devolved just to Edinburgh but passed on to the islands at the governance level which is appropriate. Such Control and management of the sea bed around the islands, would allow revenues currently paid to the Crown Estate to be channeled into local needs on the principle of subsidiarity as expressed in the document “ strengthening local democracy” which clearly demonstrates why “local matters”.

This income (from waters, seabed and foreshore) would ensure that local communities have a level of control over development in their local area and can also benefit directly from developments.

Apart from greater powers over the seabed and foreshore, it is difficult to anticipate what powers might be needed.

We therefore agree with the proposal by Cne-Siar for the bill to provide a mechanism whereby any such powers can be granted by secondary legislation where island councils and councils with island responsibilities can demonstrate by working with their communities that such additional powers would enable them to protect the island communities they serve better.

To deliver positive outcomes for their local island communities, the councils will also need to devolve what power they gain to more local levels – community councils and local Development trusts – as this would lead to positive outcomes commensurate with a greater community empowerment.

7. Do you feel there is a requirement to make any additions to the existing Zetland and Orkney County Council Acts of 1974?

The SIF has no opinion on the operation of the legislation and defers to the experience of the respective councils in this regard.

If ‘Yes’ please state what additions should be made and give the reasons for your answer.

8. Should any of the powers currently set out in the Zetland and Orkney County Council Acts of 1974 be extended to the Western Isles and other relevant Councils?

Yes

The powers associated with the Zetland and Orkney Acts have enabled positive action to be taken to ensure that communities in Shetland and Orkney can benefit from their natural resources, to the extent that they are now examples of subsidiarity and local empowerment in practice. Such principles being at the heart of island community empowerment, the same powers should be given to the other island local authorities or those that have islands in their territories.

These powers should allow the positive benefits that can be derived from the transfer of responsibility from national to local level so that local communities have a greater say in the harnessing of natural resources for community benefit.

9. Do you think the Scottish Government should introduce a ‘National Islands Plan’?

Yes

A National plan would be a positive development and allow for the monitoring of commitments as part of the island proofing process. It is important that there is an intention and understanding of the nature of consultation however, so that local communities on islands, which are the most fragile communities in the country in terms of services access, housing etc, can be genuinely consulted.

10. Are there any specific areas you feel the plan should cover and report on?

It would be beneficial for the islands to develop a National Islands Plan setting out a vision for the islands and the activities to be undertaken during the period of the plan to support the islands and ensure that they develop and prosper.

The Plan should consider 4 main priority areas:1/ energy independence for the island with transition to renewables 2/ promotion of island sustainability by encouraging primary food production 3/ transport connectivity 4/ developing integral sector policies

In detail, the plan should include:

  • The disbursement of powers and income, including income from The Crown Estate, to our island communities
  • Scottish Government capital investment in key island infrastructure such as ports, ferry terminals and vessels
  • Review of ferry fares and freight fares
  • Review of RET and its impact on tourism and local economy.
  • Island Sustainable Energy plans (recommendations for LA to set up ISEAPs goals and encouragement for them to join the Pact of Islands)
  • Investment in training and employment incentives for island based companies to boost island employment
  • creating opportunities for young people especially to make a worthwhile living on the islands.
  • Integration of transport networks including ferries, buses, air and rail connections to minimise journey times
  • Digital connectivity, for good reliable broadband.
  • Water and waste water infrastructure
  • Adequate GP, health worker and mental health and elderly care provision
  • Innovative, cost effective but high standard, affordable housing, appropriate for our extreme weather conditions
  • Adressing Fuel poverty
  • Zero waste and circular economy strategies (Islands are particularly suited to developing their own solution to waste which can be turned into a resource)
  • Developing quality tourism
  • Culture and language (Gaelic)
  • Parity for island communities with regard to mail order delivery surcharges
  • Protection of the islands’ marine and coastal environment including addressing issues of coastal erosion
  • Identifying any additional resources that might be required to implement the national plan
  • Ensuring that the implementation of the plan is based on the principle of subsidiarity and give a responsibility and place at local level in the plan to community councils and development trusts

11. If such a plan was introduced, what in your view would be an appropriate life span for the plan – e.g. 3 years/5 years/other?

The life time of a plan could coincide with the life span of each Scottish parliament, with the presentation of a draft plan within 3 months of its appointment subject to consultation for a further 3 months before the final plan is set, with the possibility of a review after 3 years if necessary.

Island communities, Community Councils and island Development trusts should have a large part to play in the consultation and the monitoring of the plan’s implementation by Scottish Government, its agencies and other bodies.

12. Do you agree that statutory protection should be given to the Na h-Eileanan an Iar Scottish parliamentary constituency?

Yes

There should be equal treatment for Na h-Eileanan an Iar. Each island group must have its own voice.

13. Should the Scottish Government consider amending the Local Governance (Scotland) Act 2004 to allow the LGBCS the power to make an exception to the usual 3 or 4 member ward rule for use with respect to populated islands?

Yes

The requirement for wards to have either 3 or 4 members does not necessarily reflect the natural groups of communities nor settlement patterns in some of the bigger islands. Councils such as Argyll and Bute Council argue that a better approach would be to allow the Council to vary the ratio of councillors to electors on islands so that an island ward, for example Bute, could have three councillors with only 5,000 electors rather than the 6,000 electors required in mainland wards (based on a parity figure of 1 councillor to 2,000 voters).

14. Please provide details of any additional issues, not addressed in your other responses, that you think should be considered in relation to the introduction of a future Islands Bill and its potential provisions.

Where local authorities are being invited onto bodies to advise on island issues, representatives from all local authorities with inhabited islands should be invited to attend. The differing and unique nature of each island is such that each local authority should have the opportunity to input to discussions