Orcadians Urged to Engage with the Islands Bill

The Scottish Parliament is reaching out to people in Orkney to have their say in the current consultation process over the Islands Bill. . Ewan Masson an Outreach Officer with the Scottish Parliament has been in the county to engage with local businesses, community groups, individuals and interested members of the public.

scottish-parliamentThe Islands Bill is at the committee stage and is being overseen by the Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee.

The all party committee is chaired by Edward Mountain and plans to hold one of its meetings in Orkney later this year. Members of the public will be able to attend the meeting in KGS after booking a place once the date is announced.

The committees of the Scottish Parliament have an important role in taking evidence and hearing from a wide range of people about the legislation they are addressing. It is at this stage that you can affect what goes forward from the committees.

Before the Orkney meeting of the Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee its members will be out and about in Orkney. If there are groups, organisations or businesses that would like them to visit then contact Ewan Masson ewan.masson@parliament.scot to see if that is possible.

Contributing your views to this important Bill can be done online or in writing. Views must be sent in no later than Monday 25 September 2017

How to submit your evidence

You can submit views using a template and send them electronically to: rec.committee@parliament.scot

Hard copy responses may be sent to: Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee,
T3.60, Scottish Parliament, Edinburgh EH99 1SP

Ideally, responses should be no more than four sides of A4 in length.

You can also share your views using an online survey.

The Islands Bill Share Your Views

  1. The Bill creates a duty to publish a national islands plan and lay it before the Scottish Parliament. What are your views on this provision?
  2. The Bill will require Scottish Ministers and certain Scottish public authorities, to prepare island impact assessments. Do you agree with this provision? How do you think it should work in practice?
  3. The Bill proposes to protect the Scottish Parliamentary constituency boundary of Na h-Eileanan an Iar (the Western Isles) from change. Do you agree with this?
  4. The Bill proposes to make an exception to the rules for local government electoral wards to allow areas with inhabited islands to return 1 or 2 members (instead of the usual 3 or 4). What are your views on this proposal?
  5. The Bill will provide a regulation-making power for the Scottish Ministers to create a marine licensing scheme for coastal waters. Do you agree with this power? Do you have any comments on how it should be used?
  6. Does the Bill achieve its aims and are you in favour overall? Is there anything else that you feel should be included or excluded from the Bill?
  7. Do you have any comments on the bill in relation to human rights or equalities?



Relief map of Orkney

One of the things to be looked at during the progress of the Islands Bill is the number of councillors we have in Orkney in each ward and how they are distributed with the multi member wards. This area  will be explored with the Boundary Commission.

“This section of the Bill amends the 2004 Act to provide an exception to the usual three or four member rule for electoral wards in relation to wards which consist either wholly or mainly of one or more inhabited islands. In these circumstances the Local Government Boundary Commission for Scotland will have the flexibility to propose wards of one or two members”.

The issue of 3/4 councillors representing more than 1 island (or part of an island) may change so that in future separate islands may have a sole councillor (or 2 depending on size of ward) representing them.

With the following being taken into account:

  • the interests of effective and convenient local government
  • that each councillor should as near as possible represent the same number of electors
  • the desirability of fixing boundaries that are easily identifiable
  •  any local ties which would be broken by making a particular boundary
  • special geographic considerations that may need different treatment

It may also remain unchanged.

Island Proofing

orkney-flagIsland Proofing is another phrase for Impact Assessment. What this means is that before any legislation is passed by the Scottish Parliament or before other public authorities carry out changes in the delivery of a service that these changes must be tested to ensure that they are not detrimental to the lives of island communities.

“The intention is that island communities impact assessments will become a normal procedural step in public authorities’ decision-making processes, in the manner of the equality impact assessment, used in relation to the duties contained in the Equality Act 2010.”

Marine Licences

Anyone who wishes to carry out a development  activity in the Islands Marine Area will have to first obtain a licence from the council. People who have already been granted a licence will not be affected by this.  Excluded from the granting of marine licences are:

  • oil & gas
  • defence
  • pollution

These are all reserved matters to the UK Government. Also excluded is Fish Farming. This is because planning permission from a local authority is already required for fish farming.

The Marine Licences will cover the “Scottish Islands Marine Area” “which is up to a radius of 12 nautical miles from an island, measured from the low water mark of the ordinary spring tide.”

The Crown Estate

During the consultation period in the preparation of the Islands Bill the issue of the Crown Estate was raised by many contributors. This will be addressed through a separate Crown Estate Bill.  There will also be a separate Bill for Planning.

Reporter: Fiona Grahame

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