Islands Strategic Group


The Islands Strategic Group was established in August 2016 to build on the work of the previous Island Areas Ministerial Working Group and the Empowering Scotland's Island Communities prospectus.

Its remit is to consider strategic issues affecting the inhabited island communities of Scotland, and to ensure greater involvement of the relevant councils in helping to identify and design solutions to the unique needs and challenges these communities face.

In particular, the group will:

  • assist with the development of provisions for the Islands (Scotland) Bill announced as part of the 2016 Programme for Government, and the supporting statutory guidance that will underpin the Bill
  • assist with the development and implementation of the National Islands Plan
  • consider how the islands councils, and councils with responsibilities for island communities, are and can be supported to make the most of existing powers available to them. Helping them to engage and empower their communities so that they can deliver efficient, improved and more responsive public services, leading to better outcomes
  • consider strategic policy issues/challenges to ensure proper solutions, fit for purpose are being considered to allow greater sustainable economic growth and community development within island communities


  • Paul Wheelhouse MSP, Minister for Energy, Connectivity and the Islands, Scottish Government
  • Kevin Stewart MSP, Minister for Local Government, Housing and Planning, Scottish Government
  • Cllr Roddie Mackay, Leader, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar
  • Malcolm Burr, Chief Executive, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar
  • Cllr James Stockan, Leader, Orkney Islands Council
  • Alistair Buchan, Chief Executive, Orkney Islands Council
  • Cllr Steven Coutts, Leader, Shetland Islands Council
  • Maggie Sandison, Chief Executive, Shetland Islands Council
  • Cllr Joe Cullinane, Leader, North Ayrshire Council
  • Elma Murray, Chief Executive, North Ayrshire Council
  • Cllr Margaret Davidson, Leader, Highland Council
  • Steve Barron, Chief Executive, Highland Council
  • Cllr Aileen Morton, Leader, Argyll and Bute Council
  • Cleland Sneddon, Chief Executive, Argyll and Bute Council