‘Island proofing’ government policy

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The Island Areas Ministerial Working Group met for the second time today (Tuesday), chaired by Derek Mackay, Minister for Local Government and Planning.

Fergus Ewing, Minister for Energy, Enterprise & Tourism and Paul Wheelhouse, Minister for Environment & Climate Change also attended, along with the Leaders and Chief Executives of the three islands councils.

The Group discussed a number of substantial issues, important to Scotland’s island communities, including energy – oil, gas and renewables – marine planning and measures to “island proof” Scottish Government policy and Parliamentary scrutiny.

The Group will meet 6 times in total, and is working towards developing a prospectus outlining opportunities for island communities in the context of the referendum.

The next meeting of the group will take place on 21 November, in Edinburgh, when the Group is expected to consider a number of issues including enterprise, economic drivers and transport.

Minister for Local Government and Communities, Derek Mackay said:

“The Lerwick Declaration made clear that this Government is committed to the principle of local decision-making and subsidiarity. We take seriously the asks of Scotland’s islands councils and have engaged with them in a formal process to examine the evidence and consider fully the future position of the islands in Scotland.

“We will not shy away from discussing big issues like oil and gas and renewables, which are rightly important to the islands, and we want to bring forward a package of proposals in the context of the referendum that would benefit island communities.”

Speaking on behalf of the 3 Island Council Leaders, Cllr Angus Campbell, Leader of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, said:

“This was a very good meeting which provided the opportunity to discuss with Scottish Ministers and Government officials some of the areas that are at the centre of the Our Islands Our Future agenda. These included energy – oil, gas and renewables – marine planning and measures to “island proof” Scottish Government policy and Parliamentary scrutiny. These are all areas where the communities of the Islands can benefit greatly. Our discussions with the Scottish Government are proceeding well and we look forward to discussions continuing leading up to the production of the prospectus that will help to map out the way ahead for Scotland’s island groups.”