Pub­lic opin­ion sought for pro­posed is­lands bill

The Oban Times - - News -

Pub­lic opin­ion is be­ing sought by the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment on pro­posed leg­is­la­tion to give is­lands more power.

The his­toric Is­lands Bill aims to pro­tect the in­ter­est of is­land com­mu­ni­ties and of­fer lo­cal author­i­ties greater pow­ers.

The bill is due to be ex­am­ined by the Scot­tish Par­lia­ment’s ru­ral econ­omy and con­nec­tiv­ity com­mit­tee, which will gather the pub­lic’s views as well as take ev­i­dence at Holy­rood over the next six months.

The Highland Coun­cil and West­ern Isles Coun­cil wel­comed the gov­ern­ment an­nounce­ment, made by Is­lands Min­is­ter Humza Yousaf last month.

Com­mit­tee con­vener Ed­ward Moun­tain said this is an op­por­tu­nity for peo­ple with an ex­pe­ri­ence of liv­ing, work­ing and vot­ing on the is­lands to in­flu­ence their fu­ture.

‘The Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment’s bill cov­ers sig­nif­i­cant is­sues such as help­ing en­sure that when­ever new leg­is­la­tion is in­tro­duced, the eco­nomic growth and sus­tain­abil­ity of Scot­land’s is­lands will be an im­por­tant fac­tor and pro­vid­ing a power for Scot­tish Min­is­ters to cre­ate a marine li­cens­ing scheme for coastal waters.

‘Its am­bi­tious aim is to pro­vide a more strate­gic ap­proach that en­ables Scot­land’s is­lands to con­tinue to flour­ish. It is cru­cial the com­mit­tee thor­oughly scru­ti­nises th­ese pro­pos­als to en­sure they fully meet the needs of is­land com­mu­ni­ties.’

He added: ‘Over the next six months we hope to hear opin­ions from across the coun­try.

‘As well as tak­ing ev­i­dence at Holy­rood, the com­mit­tee will visit cam­paign­ers and in­di­vid­u­als on the is­lands for views on the bill’s pro­pos­als.

‘It’s cru­cial the valu­able knowl­edge, ex­pe­ri­ence and ex­per­tise of ev­ery­one in Scot­land with an in­ter­est in the fu­ture of our is­lands feed into our work wher­ever pos­si­ble.’

The dead­line for sub­mit­ting ev­i­dence to the ru­ral econ­omy and con­nec­tiv­ity com­mit­tee is Mon­day Septem­ber 25.

The com­mit­tee will pro­duce a re­port on the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment’s Is­lands Bill at stage one af­ter it has con­cluded tak­ing ev­i­dence in au­tumn.

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