Islanders asked to help shape first National Islands Plan

Island residents are being asked to give their views to help shape Scotland’s first National Islands Plan.

The Scottish Government consultation seeks information on the challenges and benefits of island life.

Respondents are asked to give their opinion on challenges faced by those living on Scotland’s islands, such as retaining population, connectivity, transport links, economic development and housing.

They are also asked about the positives of living on the islands and examples of good policies.

Creating a National Islands Plan is a key part of the new Islands Act, passed at Holyrood last May.

The new law stemmed from the Our Islands Our Future campaign, carried out ahead of the Scottish independence referendum to demand more power for the islands.

The legislation will mean public sector legislation and policies have a duty to take the impact on the islands into consideration, known as island-proofing.

It also banned Shetland from being boxed off on official maps, ruling that it must be accurately geographically represented and not moved to a box in the North Sea or missed off maps entirely as has happened in the past.

Speaking on the consultation launch during a visit to the Hebridean island of Canna, Islands Minister Paul Wheelhouse said: “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 island communities.

“This included providing formal recognition of their unique characteristics and challenges, and tailoring policy to support our islands effectively.

“Now we are asking residents and other stakeholders what their concerns are, and where we should be focusing resources in future to help our islands and all who live on them flourish.

“This is an opportunity for us to develop a strategic direction for optimising support to island communities, taking into account factors like ageing populations, public service provision, biodiversity and enhancing skillsets.”

The consultation is open until July 6 and the National Islands Plan will be delivered to the Scottish Parliament by October 4.

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