Council welcomes introduction of Islands Bill to Scottish Parliament
Leader of Orkney Islands Council, James Stockan, has welcomed the publication of an Islands Bill by the Scottish Government.
The Bill is the first to be introduced to the Scottish Parliament that is specifically for island communities.
It follows as a result of the Our Islands Our Future campaign, led by the councils in Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles.
The Bill includes provisions on:
- A National Islands Plan.
- A requirement to Island Proof future legislation and policies.
- The future representation of Island Communities.
- The potential extension of the provisions of the Orkney and Zetland County Council Acts of 1974, to enable Scottish Minsters to establish a scheme requiring that activities up to 12 nautical miles from an island are licensed by the appropriate Council.
Councillor Stockan said: “The Our Islands Our Future campaign specifically asked for an Act for the Islands in 2013 and it is gratifying to see this objective being realised. Island Proofing is particularly important as evidenced by Orkney Islands Council’s substantive response to the Scottish Government’s consultation.
“We were able to amply demonstrate numerous cases where legislation had been detrimental to Orkney and which could have been avoided if island proofing had taken place.”
Councillor Stockan added: “But our work is not complete. We will be working tirelessly with Scottish government to ensure that there is an objective standard by which decisions over whether to conduct an ‘Islands Communities Assessment’ are made and also how the legislation will be interpreted.
“The Guidance to be issued by Scottish Government will be central in determining how this will work in practice. We hope to have a meaningful role in the development of this Guidance and will be working closely with the Minister for Transport and Islands, Humza Yousaf, through the Islands Strategic Group to achieve this.
“This has been a long process and I would like to thank all who have contributed, particularly our stakeholders from business and the voluntary sector, community councils and The Orkney Partnership Board, who helped inform the Council’s response to the consultation.”
The Scottish Government’s press release announcing the Bill can be read here.