Public opinion sought for proposed islands bill
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.