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Scottish islands boosted by greater powers

Words: Roger Milne
Shetland / Shutterstock_534728473

New legislation has been enacted which will confer greater powers to island councils, including Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles.

The Islands (Scotland) Act will require all future government policies to be “island-proofed” by taking into account the special circumstances of the island communities.

The legislation will also give the communities greater say over development on and offshore and will require the publication of a National Islands Plan within the next 12 months. This will cover matters such as population, transport and digital connectivity.

Roddie Mackay, leader of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar (the Western Isles), said the councils were now focusing on a growth deal for the three local authorities known as the Islands’ Deal.

“This will complement the plan and bring much-needed transformational investment benefits to our islands, helping to combat the challenges that we face and increasing the contribution that islands make to the economic prosperity, cultural diversity and international reputation of Scotland and the UK.”

Steven Coutts, leader of Shetland Islands Council, said: “This is a historic achievement for our islands, and marks a new phase of collaboration between these three island authorities and national government.”

Orkney Islands Council leader James Stockan said: “This is a hugely significant moment in the history of our communities.

“We presented a compelling case to the Scottish Government and to MSPs from across the political spectrum. The result is fit-for-purpose legislation that will underpin our efforts to ensure a secure and prosperous future for the people of the islands.”

Image credit | Shutterstock