The historic Islands Bill which started its life in Orkney as ‘Our Islands Our Future’ has now been passed in the Scottish Parliament.
Orkney Islands Council was delighted that the measures it had proposed to strengthen the legislation were accepted.
The amendments agreed from OIC would:
- Provide opportunities for the further devolution of powers to island communities.
- Allow ‘island proofing’ of existing as well as future policies and legislation, to ensure these take into account the special circumstances of island communities – and do not disadvantage people living and working in the islands.
- Enable the Council to have a far greater say in marine planning matters affecting the waters around Orkney.
James Stockan, Leader of Orkney Islands Council said:
“I am delighted that the Scottish Government and MSPs from other parties have listened to our case and have ensured that this will be fit-for-purpose legislation that delivers transformational support for island communities for many years to come.
“We have worked hard to achieve this. We have lobbied the Government and MSPs from across the political spectrum at Holyrood. This is an historic and momentous achievement for all involved.”
Local MSP, Maree Todd, SNP said:
“This is a truly historic day for our Island communities.
“I was delighted to witness this landmark bill come to the end of its legislative journey today.
“As a representative of the area covering Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles – who all linked so successfully for the award-winning Our Islands Our Future campaign – I know how much this will mean to folk.
“This is the first piece of legislation in the Scottish Parliament to recognise the unique needs of our Island communities.
“I am confident that that the bill will have a real and lasting impact and will unlock the economic and social potential of Scotland’s Islands.
“It is central to the SNP government’s aim to empower island communities and I know very well what a tangible difference it will make.”
The Islands Bill includes proposals to form a National Islands Plan. This is the most significant part of the Islands Bill.
Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles are bringing forward proposals for an ambitious Islands Deal that claim will be transformational for the economies and communities of the islands.
James Stockan said:
“Securing investment through an Islands Deal is the focus for the next phase of collaboration between our three island authorities and we look forward to the strong support of the Scottish and UK Governments in that process.”