Comhairle Welcomes Progress on Islands Bill

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar has welcomed the progress on the Islands (Scotland) Bill following the Stage 3 Debate and passing of the Bill in Parliament yesterday afternoon.

Comhairle Convener, Cllr Norman A. MacDonald, said: "Yesterday was a historic and significant milestone for Scotland’s islands and represents an excellent outcome for the Our Islands Our Future campaign run by Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, Orkney Islands Council and Shetland Islands Councils.

The Bill itself is an opportunity to embed the principles that "one size does not fit all", and a recognition of the principle that equity and fairness may, on occasion, only be achieved by the adaptation of legislation, policy, strategy or services.

We warmly welcome and strongly believe that the commitments given today by the Minister for Transport and Islands, Humza Yousaf MSP, and his predecessor, Derek Mackay MSP, which are reflected in Government’s Stage 3 amendments, together with opposition amendments on key points, strengthen this Bill.

Given the fragile nature of our islands’ economies, the challenges of population retention and growth, and other financial and resource issues which impact disproportionately on islands we believe that the Bill provides an opportunity for islands to “help themselves” by allowing the development of bespoke solutions on governance at the earliest possible opportunity.

Moving forward from this historic achievement, the three Island authorities and their partners are bringing forward proposals for an ambitious Islands Deal that will be transformational for our economies and communities.

We are rightly proud of the unique contribution our Islands make to the economic prosperity, cultural diversity and international reputation of Scotland and the United Kingdom but we recognise we can offer so much more with the right level of strategic investment.

Securing that 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."