All Scottish councils with responsibility for island communities involved.
A new Islands Strategic Group will be created, bringing all six local authorities with responsibility for Scotland’s 93 inhabited island communities together.
Islands Minister Humza Yousaf confirmed the new group and the expanded membership on a visit to Skye and Raasay.
The group will involve Argyll and Bute, Highland, North Ayrshire, Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles.
Arriving on Raasay where he will meet members of the local community council, Mr Yousaf said:
“Scotland’s islands have rich and vibrant cultures and make a huge contribution to Scottish life. With the forthcoming Islands Bill now confirmed as a year one priority for the Scottish Government, the Islands Strategic Group will be crucial in shaping the content of the legislation.
“The group will also focus on the development of a National Islands Plan, which will ensure the Government’s commitment to further empower the Scottish islands will be tailored specifically by those who will be most affected, taking into account the challenges and also the opportunities of island life.
“I’ve already had numerous positive conversations with council leaders who will be getting round the table to represent the interests of our many and varied island communities and look forward to further constructive discussions in the future.”
Highland Council leader Cllr Margaret Davidson said:
“I am delighted that the Highland Council has been invited to participate in this new working group to progress the Islands Bill. All of Scotland’s 93 islands face unique challenges and opportunities and it is very encouraging that the Scottish Government recognises this by bringing forward legislation to ensure our island communities’ interests are protected. The impact of the EU Referendum will have a significant impact on our islands, and indeed all rural and coastal communities, making this area of work even more important than before.”