Researchers Launch Survey on Island Issues

Researchers are seeking the views of islanders on depopulation and other issues affecting future sustainability and development.

The research, commissioned by the Scottish Government, is being conducted by the James Hutton Institute. It seeks to engage with a selection of islanders in monitoring the impact and effectiveness of the National Islands Plan, and to record perceptions of key aspects of island life in different communities.

The survey is being sent to 20,000 island residents, including Na h-Eileanan Siar, Orkney Islands, Shetland Islands and islands situated within the local authorities of Argyll and Bute, Highland and North Ayrshire.

Dr Ruth Wilson, a social scientist within the James Hutton Institute’s Social, Economic and Geographical Sciences department and co-ordinator of the survey, said:

“We’re asking islanders about their everyday experiences and the survey will help us measure how communities are faring in terms of the objectives set out in the National Islands Plan.

“Survey questions address issues that we know are key to enabling people to live and work in the islands, such as housing, jobs and digital connectivity, as well as access to health care and quality of the environment.

“It is important that we hear views from across the Scottish islands, from the smallest to the largest, from Unst to Arran, as different island communities face very different challenges.”

The survey follows on from consultations held on islands in 2019 and will provide baseline data for the thirteen objectives of the National Islands Plan. It will enable the impact of the plan to be measured consistently across island communities in future years.

The survey is available in English and Gaelic and recipients have the choice to complete it on paper, online or by phone.

The Sustainable Orkney Conference has held several talks with more to come which are discussing many of the issues central to economic development and sustainability.

The issue of Depopulation was the subject of a recent online presentation via Arctic Connections which The Orkney News reported.

Old Man of Hoy silhouette photo: Martin Laird

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