Island Minister appointed
The Scottish Islands Federation welcomes the restoration of the island minister post for which it has long been campaigning. Derek MacKay who has been appointed to the post, previously chaired the Islands Area Ministerial Working Group which has produced the Prospectus for Islands, undoubtedly the most comprehensive package of powers for island communities ever produced.
Relaunch of Islands Area Ministerial Working Group.
Newly appointed Islands Minister meets with the Leader of Orkney Islands Council Leader on Tuesday 2nd December. Speaking ahead of his visit Mr Mackay said: “The Scottish Government’s proposals to empower all of Scotland’s island communities included a commitment to appoint an Islands Minister and I am keen to engage with all the islands leaders. Orkney is my first island visit since being appointed and I plan to visit all other Island leaders in the coming weeks. In my new role I will focus on fulfilling our commitments to empower and support Scotland’s island communities and to provide a voice for all of Scotland’s 93 island communities within the Government. We will shortly re-launch the Islands Area Ministerial Working Group and consult on further measures that might be included in an Islands Act. This will include how the Smith Commission proposals for the full devolution of all Crown Estate assets in Scotland can bring benefits to the islands.”
Empowering Scottish Island Communities
On 17 June 2014, in Kirkwall, First Minister Alex Salmond launched the “Prospectus for islands”, stating the Scottish government’s vision for the Scottish Islands. It was the result of months of meeting by the islands area ministerial working group set up to look at how the vision produced by the 3 unitary island councils – Orkney- Shetland and Western isles in their ground-breaking document “Our Islands, Our Future” launched in Orkney almost exactly a year before. In the prospectus, the Scottish Government has committed to implement a range of proposals, including:
- To bring forward a Bill for an Islands Act upon independence to place a duty on the Scottish Government and other public bodies to ‘island-proof’ their functions and decisions, and create a post of ‘Minister for Island Communities’
- To extend to 2020 the duration of the Enterprise Areas at Arnish, Lyness and Hatston, and support the establishment of Island Innovation Zones, to help sustain job opportunities
- To allocate, upon Independence, 100 per cent of the net income from the islands’ sea bed leasing revenues to island communities rather than to central government
- To ensure Islands Councils’ representation on a new strategic energy committee upon independence, and explore ways to mitigate any adverse community impacts from oil and gas activities consistent with our commitments made to the industry in Scotland’s Future
- To develop a ‘planning brief’ approach for aquaculture to underpin further development and growth of the sector, and develop a ‘Community Benefit Charter’ with the Islands Councils, the aquaculture industry and those involved in the regulatory framework
- To ensure the special needs of island communities have a stronger voice and representation in Europe These proposals will complement the range of recent measures already being implemented by the Scottish Government, including:
- Additional top-up to island beef producers leading to an uplift of around €65 per calf under the Beef Voluntary Coupled Support (VCS) Scheme
- Delegation of statutory regional marine planning for the Island areas (to 12 nautical miles) to local Marine Planning Partnerships, with the Islands Councils playing a lead role
- Securing Islands council representation on committees to ensure voice in the Scotland Rural Development Programme
Here is a link to download the full document: Empowering Scottish Islands Communities.