An extremely important part of the Islands Act was the inclusion of impact assessments which all public bodies must conduct before they introduce, or make changes to, services etc which affect island communities. These are called Island Communities Impact Assessments(ICIA) but it is more commonly known as ‘island proofing’.
The recent controversial decision by HIAL to introduce its remote towers and centralise air traffic control in Inverness before conducting an ICIA demonstrates the vital need for organisations to do these. HIAL are retrospectively conducting an impact assessment but have already decided to go ahead with their project and ignoring the spirit in which the Islands Act was developed.
Click on this link to view all the bodies which are required to conduct an ICIA prior to implementing changes or starting projects: Annexe A
The Scottish Government has produced a guide for all those organisations on their responsibilities in conducting a meaningful ICIA and the consultation on this guide is now open. It will close on 9th of November.
As well as the public bodies listed and the local authorities, Scottish Ministers must also take into account how policies , strategies and services to island communities will be affected by decisions they may take.
The National Islands Plan was a groundbreaking piece of legislation based on the principles that it is fair, integrated, green and inclusive.
All of those public bodies listed in Annexe A above are supposed to take into consideration those 4 principles – fair, integrated, green and inclusive.
Fairness is a key value that underpins the National Islands Plan and reflects the Scottish Government’s commitment to equality and human rights. The Plan recognises that every member of society has a right to live with dignity and to enjoy high quality public services wherever they live. This commitment is also an explicit National Outcome within Scotland’s National Performance Framework.
Interestingly in the guidance it states that an ICIA is also intended to cover existing policies, strategies and services. It would be of benefit for public bodies to conduct an ICIA even for projects/policies that are already in place and amend if necessary.
The ICIA is not to be a tick box and should be done at the start of any development to be undertaken.
The consultation paper can be found here: Island Communities Impact Assessment
The consultation can be found here: Island Communities Impact Assessments Guidance and Toolkit
Assessment 1. Define the issue 2. Understand the situation 3. Consultation 4. Assessment ICIA required? Yes - 5. Prepare your ICIA No - 6. Making adjustments to your work 7. Publishing your ICIA Section 8 Assessment
Will public bodies embrace the principles of the Islands Act?
Will full consultation and engagement take place before implementation of policies and projects?
And if not what action will islanders be able to take if they feel that a meaningful Island Communities Impact Assessment has not taken place or that its findings are being ignored?
If the Islands Plan is to respond to the needs of islanders the ICIAs must be seen as legitimate assessments leading to improvements in the lives of island communities.
Reporter: Fiona Grahame