What the minister says:
Commenting on the consultation progress while visiting the Slate Islands of Easdale, Seil and Luing, as part of a programme of island visits last June, Islands Minister Paul Wheelhouse said: “Last year, the passage of the first ever Act of Parliament aimed specifically at islanders’ needs and the positive contributions made to Scotland by our islands, marked an historic milestone for our islands communities.
“We are steadily implementing the provisions of the Act and I am therefore delighted to see so many island residents, and others with an interest in our islands, sharing their views, hopes and aspirations for the future for our islands communities during the consultation on Scotland’s first ever National Islands Plan.
“The consultation, including events that I have been able to see during my visits this week, is ensuring we discuss challenges, learn lessons from policy successes that have been achieved across island communities, and identify factors that contribute to good policy outcomes. The evidence we are gathering will help us to better target public resources to help our islands, with the objective of enabling all who live on our islands to flourish.”
“This has been an unprecedented exercise in listening to Scotland’s islanders and it is my sincere hope that this important consultation helps us to project islanders’ voices to Scotland’s policy makers and public bodies and harness the undoubted strengths and resources of islands communities, with the objective of providing the brightest, most sustainable future for our islands communities that, in so many ways, constitute the very best of Scotland.”
Online responses echo community views
360 responses have also been submitted online, by individuals and organisations such as NFU Scotland. Here is what Lucy Sumsion, NFU’s Argyll and the Islands regional manager has to say: “ Our response set out that the main objective should be to make the islands socially and economically viable places to live and work for islanders. This include shaping an environment that allows farming and crofting to prosper, and underpin vibrant wider economy that enjoys the same levels of services as the remainder of Scotland.” Her comment certainly echoes the aspirations of many islanders.
Community Impact assessment: a key measure
One of the key measures in the Islands (Scotland) Act 2018 is to require everyone who makes or designs new polices, strategies or services to consider how these will impact on islands.
Island Communities Impact Assessments will be one way in which relevant authorities can consider the impact of these polices, strategies or services on islands.
The consultation will also provide input to develop guidance on how these impact assessments will operate. “This was perhaps the most complex aspect of the consultation, but our island communities have not shied away from the challenge of providing an informed response,” reports Sandy Brunton, who led the community consultation process.
We are very proud of the way island community leaders have responded to this challenge so constructively, going out of their way to ensure good event participation,” said Camille Dressler, who chairs the the Scottish Islands Federation, one of the partner organisations in the National Island Plan consultation together with the Scottish Government and the Strathclyde Centre for Environmental Law and Governance , “ I now have to give all our thanks to Ann MacDonald, our S.I.F director from Tiree, who has masterfully handled the consultation logistics. She has done us proud and helped immensely by providing a blueprint for future island consultation!
Results expected in October 2019
The National Island Team will now get to work to collate the community and online responses over August and September, and aims to present a first draft of the National Island Plan in early October 2019.
There still is time to send your own response – until midnight – by clicking here!