Progress on the future of Islands

The Island Areas Ministerial Working Group has today made significant progress toward a prospectus heralding new powers for Scotland’s islands.

Derek Mackay, Minister for Local Government and Planning, chaired today’s sixth meeting in Kirkwall, also attended by the Leaders and Chief Executives of the three islands Councils as well as the Minister for Environment and Climate Change, Paul Wheelhouse.

Having met on five previous occasions to discuss a range of topics of particular importance to the islands, the Group was today able to agree key aspects of the prospectus, and is well placed for finding final agreement.

This process followed the Lerwick Declaration, made in Shetland last July by the First Minister, which affirmed the Scottish Government’s commitment to subsidiarity and local decision making.

Mr Mackay said: “I welcome the progress made today with the Leaders of Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles. We are now in a position to finalise our prospectus for the islands imminently, based on today’s discussions, which will set out an exciting path for empowering all of Scotland’s island communities.

“Today’s agreement demonstrates the commitment of the three Leaders to secure the best possible outcome for each of their island areas, as well as the commitment of the Scottish Government to give life and meaning to the principles of subsidiarity and local decision-making, as set out in the First Minister’s Lerwick Declaration.

“My ministerial colleagues and I look forward to continue to work with Scotland’s island communities, and to publishing the prospectus once agreement has been reached.”

Speaking on behalf of the three Island Councils, Orkney Island Council Convener Stephen Heddle said: “The Scottish Government sent a strong team to Kirkwall for this final meeting – we appreciate the commitment they’ve shown to the Island Areas Ministerial Working Group.

“The subjects at the heart of our negotiations over many months are of key concern to island areas and have placed significant demands on the Government in responding to them.

“It was a long and intense meeting today and it covered many of these key areas. We feel we have made good progress and we now look forward to addressing a number of issues which are still outstanding before the Prospectus is concluded.”