Highlands & Islands

Islands Bill to be progressed, says Humza Yousaf

Orkney Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption Local authorities on Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles have been campaigning for greater control over local matters

Legislation "to empower" Scotland's island communities is to be progressed, Islands Minister Humza Yousaf has said.

He said the Scottish government's proposed Islands Bill would be shaped by a public consultation.

The legislation is to be brought forward during the next 12 months - within the first year of the new parliamentary session.

Shetland, Orkney and Western Isles councils have been calling for greater control over local matters.

The local authorities launched the campaign, Our Islands - Our Future, in the lead up to 2014's Scottish independence referendum.

The campaign sought commitments from the Scottish and UK governments to devolve more powers to the island councils.

'Deliver quickly'

Mr Yousaf said island communities made a "significant contribution" to Scotland's culture and economy.

He said: "We have placed the aspirations and needs of our island communities at the centre of our empowerment agenda.

"Drawing on the work of both the Island Areas Ministerial Working Group and the consultation findings, the bill will provide lasting benefits for all our island communities for generations to come.

"I believe that this demonstrates our strong and continued support for our island communities and our desire to deliver quickly on the election promises set out in our manifesto."

Angus Campbell, leader of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, said those involved in the Our Islands - Our Future campaign were pleased that the legislation was to be progressed.

He said: "Together with our colleagues in Orkney and Shetland we have worked closely with the Scottish government with the aim of bringing forward an Islands Bill for the benefit of island communities in Scotland.

"I am delighted that we are now in a position where the bill is imminent.

"This will form the basis for island-proofing in future legislation and policies and the creation of a National Islands Plan."

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