Empowering our island communities

We published the National Plan for Scotland's Islands in December 2019. The Plan includes 13 strategic objectives and a comprehensive list of commitments and sets our direction of travel. It also provides a framework for action in order to meaningfully improve outcomes for island communities.

We previously published the Empowering Scotland's Island Communities prospectus (June 2014) as well as the progress update on the prospectus (March 2016). 

Islands Strategic Group

We established the Islands Strategic Group 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.

Islands (Scotland) Act 2018

The Islands (Scotland) Act 2018 was granted Royal Assent in July 2018. The Act introduces measures to support and help meet the unique needs of Scotland's islands now and in the future. It will also seek to help create the right environment for sustainable growth and empowered communities.

One of the provisions within the Act (at section 3), requires the Scottish Ministers to develop a National Islands Plan. According to the Act, the purpose of the Plan is ‘to set out the main objectives and strategy of the Scottish Ministers in relation to improving outcomes for island communities that result from, or are contributed to by the carrying out of functions of a public nature.'

We are continuing to implement the Act's provisions.


In 2013 Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, Orkney Islands Council and Shetland Islands Council launched the Our Islands - Our Future campaign, which sought to ensure that the needs of island areas were taken into account, and the particular nature of Scotland's three main island areas recognised. We formed the Island Areas Ministerial Working Group to consider how Scotland's island areas could be supported and empowered.

In June 2014 the Group published the Empowering Scotland's Island Communities prospectus, which set out proposals for increased autonomy for island communities. In this we recognised that, while all three islands councils are in a unique position, Scotland has 93 inhabited islands in total whose communities could all benefit from greater empowerment.

From 29 September to 23 December 2015 we consulted on provisions for a future islands bill. The analysis of responses to the islands bill consultation was published in March 2016, along with an Empowering Scotland's Island Communities: progress update which outlined the work that we, our agencies and the island councils are doing to help support and sustain Scotland's island communities.

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