On 30 September 2015 the Scottish Government launched its consultation seeking views on Provisions for a Future Islands Bill. The consultation ran till 23 December 2015 with 192 responses being received. Views were sought on a range of issues including:
• Island Proofing;
• Empowering Island Communities;
• A National Islands Plan;
• Statutory Protection for the Na h-Eileanan an Iar Scottish Parliamentary constituency;
• Amending the Local Governance (Scotland) Act 2004; and
• Any other issues for consideration in a future Islands Bill.
The independent analysis of the responses was undertaken by Reid-Howie Associates Ltd. Their key findings were as follows:
• A large majority (91%) stated that the Scottish Government should consider placing the concept of island-proofing in legislation. A large majority (98%) also stated that Scottish Ministers should have the power to issue Statutory Guidance to other relevant public bodies related to island-proofing.
• A clear majority (73%) stated that the current powers of island councils, and councils with island responsibilities, were not sufficient to deliver positive outcomes for island communities.
• Views were evenly split on whether or not additions should be made to the existing Zetland and Orkney County Council Acts of 1974.
• A clear majority (77%) believed that the powers currently set out in the Zetland and Orkney County Council Acts of 1974 should be extended to the Western Isles and other relevant councils.
• A large majority (85%) expressed the view that the Scottish Government should introduce a National Islands Plan.
• A large majority (86%) were in favour of giving statutory protection to the Na h-Eileanan an Iar Scottish parliamentary constituency.
• A large majority (86%) stated that the Scottish Government should consider amending the Local Governance (Scotland) Act 2004 to allow the Local Government Boundary Commission for Scotland (LGBCS) the power to make an exception for populated islands to the usual three or four member ward rule.
Further details are given in the main report.