2.1. This section presents the findings relating to Questions 1-4, covering island-proofing. There was found to be some overlap in a few of the detailed themes raised at these questions, and some additional relevant points were made at other questions. Where this was the case, these have been presented together at an appropriate point, to avoid repetition  .
Question 1: Inclusion of island-proofing in legislation
2.2. Question 1 asked:
"Is the concept of 'island-proofing' something the Scottish Government should consider placing in legislation through the proposed Islands Bill Yes/No? Please explain the reasons for your answer."
2.3. Almost all of the respondents (97%) addressed Question 1. Of these  almost all (91%) answered "yes", expressing the view that the Scottish Government should consider placing the concept of island-proofing in legislation, through the proposed Islands Bill. Only 7% answered "no", and 2% did not answer "yes" or "no" but made other comments at this question.
Chart 1: Should the Scottish Government consider placing the concept of island-proofing in legislation?
2.4. Respondents were asked to explain the reasons for their answer, and most of those who addressed the question did so (although just over a quarter did not).
2.5. Most of the comments focused on respondents' views of the benefits of island-proofing and why there was a need for this. A small number of respondents made comments on perceived drawbacks. Further details of these comments are given below.
2.6. Additionally, many respondents made further suggestions about the way forward for island-proofing, and these are presented later in this section (at Question 4).
Benefits of, and reasons for a need for island-proofing
2.7. Among the perceived benefits of, or reasons for a need for island-proofing, three common themes emerged, which were:
- The existence of specific issues impacting on islands.
- The need for a tailored approach to legislation, policy and services.
- Other benefits of island-proofing.
The existence of specific issues impacting on islands
2.8. One of the most common benefits, or reasons given for a need for island-proofing was the existence of specific issues affecting island communities. Many respondents described the ways in which island circumstances were different from the mainland, particularly mainland urban communities. A few also noted the diversity of islands or island groups themselves.
2.9. Many respondents made the general point that islands faced their own issues and challenges, which could impact on all aspects of life, including social and economic issues and service delivery.
2.10. Many respondents gave examples of circumstances which could create particular challenges, such as:
- Isolation and remoteness.
- Distance from other centres and the Scottish mainland.
- Environmental issues.
- Climate and severe weather.
- Declining, sparse and ageing populations and problems retaining young people.
2.11. Many stated that problems could include:
- General difficulties in providing, sharing and staffing services (and problems with specific services).
- High costs of service delivery, business and building.
- High cost of living and below average wage levels.
- High fuel costs and high levels of fuel poverty.
- High transport costs to, and within islands (for goods and passengers) and limited public transport services.
- Lack of access to specialist services and skills.
- Difficulties in participating fully in social and economic life ( e.g. national politics; economic opportunities and markets; sport).
- Lack of connectivity ( e.g. technology and digital; grid; transport).
- Lack of access to business skills development, employment opportunities and further or higher education.
- Lack of access to resources and erosion of provision.
The need for a tailored approach to legislation, policy and services
2.12. Many respondents stated that, given these particular circumstances, a "one size fits all" approach to legislation, policy and services was inappropriate. It was suggested that there was often a lack of account taken of island issues, and that national solutions, or those designed for central Scotland, did not adequately reflect the circumstances of island living.
2.13. A small number of respondents mentioned, additionally, that even local authority decision-making did not always reflect the needs of island communities.
2.14. Several respondents stated that a lack of consideration of island issues could lead to negative consequences for island communities such as:
- Failure to address their needs and concerns.
- Inappropriate or reduced services and opportunities.
- Difficulties for services in meeting national targets.
- Damage to the interests of the islands.
- Overall disadvantage and inequality compared to mainland Scotland, (as well as the UK and internationally) and inequalities between islands.
2.15. A number of examples were given from different policy areas, where respondents felt that island circumstances had not been taken into account, and the outcome for islands had not been positive. These included:
- The proposed requirement for new head teachers to hold the Into Headship qualification, with the suggestion that this could lead to recruitment problems for islands.
- The creation of single police and fire and rescue authorities, with the suggestion that this could create difficulties in providing services to outlying islands and isolated communities, and could lead to problems in recruitment and accountability.
- The joint working arrangements of the Public Bodies (Joint Working) Scotland Act 2014, which did not enable the concept of one local public authority to deliver all services in an island area.
- The opportunity for GPs to opt out of out of hours provision, making it difficult to provide services in an island area.
- Centralised procurement policies ( e.g. centralised building contracts and the Hub for Procurement) which it was suggested could make it difficult for local businesses to win work.
- Requirements and incentives ( e.g. building requirements, and the Carbon Reduction Commitment) which it was suggested could penalise the use of electricity and fail to recognise, for example, the use of this for carbon saving.
- The application of the Road Equivalent Tariff ( RET) scheme to some islands, which it was suggested had created inequalities in islands' ability to compete and access opportunities.
- Planning guidance ( e.g. the Local Development Plan Framework) which could result in different interpretation in areas with different land mass or geography.
- The use of national statistics and indicators ( e.g. in the distribution of funding), which it was suggested did not recognise the nature of island areas.
- Housing policy changes, which it was suggested had led to a reduction in financial assistance for housing improvements and repairs, and had had an impact on private housing stock.
- National regulations on food production that were seen to contribute to making some island businesses non-viable.
- Crofting legislation that was seen to have reduced local discretion and increased statutory time for relevant processes.
- The Waste (Scotland) Regulations 2012, which it was suggested could lead to increased recycling costs for islands, and difficulties in meeting national standards.
2.16. Many respondents stated that there was a need for island-proofing to help ensure that, in future, the particular issues facing islands would be taken into account at all stages and that this would be embedded in policy processes. It was argued that this would enable a more tailored approach to legislation, policy and services which would reflect the needs, circumstances and characteristics of island communities.
2.17. This would, in turn, make legislation and policy more responsive to island requirements, and help ensure optimal solutions for them. One respondent noted that such an approach had worked well with other legislative assessments.
2.18. A few respondents gave specific examples where they felt island circumstances had been taken into account, and had led to a positive outcome. These included:
- Joint working to promote island priorities and carry out local planning.
- Local developments managed directly by communities.
- Service provision to remote communities.
- The consideration of rurality or island issues in funding or financial support.
- Representation from islands on decision-making bodies.
2.19. One respondent stated that island-proofing could help avoid duplication, where beneficial local frameworks were already in place.
2.20. A small number of respondents mentioned that the concept of island-proofing was not new, and some provided details of previous requests for this, and previous developments. A small number made reference to the recognition of rural and island issues in Articles 170 and 174 of the Treaty on the functioning of the European Union ( TFEU) (also referred to by some respondents as the "Lisbon Treaty") but suggested that there had been a lack of formal recognition of island status in legislation.
2.21. A few respondents argued that the Scottish Parliament's Standing Orders did not address island-proofing sufficiently and effectively. It was suggested, for example, that the policy memorandum referred to therein (requiring an assessment of the effects of a Bill upon island communities) did not generally have the desired effect; that there was insufficient screening; and that the islands "check" was carried out late in the process.
Other benefits of island-proofing
2.22. Many respondents identified other benefits of island-proofing. While some stressed its overall importance, or welcomed the proposal in general, additional specific benefits highlighted included the potential for this to enable:
- Increased joint working to address island issues.
- Greater equality and action to address and prevent disadvantage.
- Better understanding of the issues facing islands.
- Good economic, social and environmental solutions.
- Better sustainability, and the opportunity for island communities to thrive and achieve their economic potential.
- Improved accountability of relevant authorities.
- Empowerment of island communities, better local control, consultation, engagement and involvement.
- Consistency with European provision, and a commitment in legislation to recognise island issues.
- More efficient use of resources, reduced costs and improved public services.
- Wider benefits to the Scottish and UK economies.
2.23. Several respondents highlighted the strengths and value of the islands, in terms of, for example, their: contribution to the economy and wealth generation; quality of life; language, culture and heritage; provision of products; energy resources; tourism; food and drink; and creative industries.
The drawbacks of island-proofing
2.24. A small number of respondents (almost, but not all of whom expressed disagreement with placing island-proofing in legislation), mentioned drawbacks with this. A few stated that there was a lack of need for this, with existing powers and structures in place which could deliver the Scottish Government's priorities in all parts of Scotland.
2.25. Additionally, two respondents expressed disagreement with the overall principle of island-proofing. Another expressed the view that other remote and rural areas faced the same, or greater challenges (a point made by some other respondents and discussed later at para 2.83) and one stated that this would generate demands from other areas for "proofing".
2.26. A further respondent suggested that there was a need for greater integration and inclusion of the islands, whereas island-proofing could contribute to a perception of separation. Two expressed concerns about the nature of their local decision-making and the consequences of the provision of greater local power.
Questions 2 and 3: The power for Scottish Ministers to issue statutory guidance and the coverage of such guidance
2.27. Question 2 asked:
"If you answered 'Yes' to question 1, do you agree that Scottish Ministers should have the power to issue statutory guidance to other relevant public bodies related to island-proofing which they would be required to adhere to in exercising their functions and duties Yes/No"
2.28. Detailed comments on the coverage of statutory guidance were then requested at Question 3, which asked:
"If you answered 'Yes' to question 2, please state which public bodies, and what specific decisions you think this statutory guidance should relate to?"
2.29. Almost all respondents (89%) addressed Question 2. Of these, almost all (98%) answered "yes", expressing the view that Scottish Ministers should have the power to issue statutory guidance to other relevant public bodies related to island-proofing. Only 2% answered "no".
Chart 2: Should Scottish Ministers have the power to issue statutory guidance on island-proofing?
2.30. Two respondents qualified their responses. One expressed agreement, but stated that unconditional agreement could not be given without more detailed information about what island-proofing would entail. Another stated that their agreement was dependent on guidance that would work for both public bodies and island communities.
2.31. Almost all respondents (86%) addressed Question 3, and most of these comments focused on identifying the types of public bodies and decisions which respondents felt should be covered by the statutory guidance (and included in the island-proofing process).
2.32. Two respondents stated that more information ( e.g. a definition of public bodies; or further research) was required before they could comment on which public bodies to include. A few stated that it was either not yet possible to determine the nature of specific decisions, or the range was too diverse to name all decisions, or they did not have the knowledge to do so.
2.33. Among the many respondents who identified public bodies or decisions to be covered by the guidance, common themes (discussed in detail below) were the need to include:
- All public bodies and / or decisions.
- Public bodies and decisions in particular policy areas.
- Public bodies by particular type of organisation.
- Decisions on particular topics.
All public bodies and / or decisions
2.34. A very common theme was that all public bodies and / or all of their decisions should be covered by the statutory guidance and included in a requirement for island-proofing.
2.35. A few respondents specified that the duty should include all Scottish Government or Parliament controlled or funded public bodies and agencies. One respondent suggested that Scottish Government-funded bodies providing grants to others should consider their expectations of these funded organisations.
2.36. A few respondents stated that the duty should apply to all public bodies unless they could satisfy Scottish Ministers that it was not relevant to its functions, while one respondent stated specifically that none should be exempt.
2.37. Many stated that any decision having an impact on people in island communities should be included, and it was suggested that virtually all policies had such an impact (although a small number noted that some decisions would have a greater impact than others).
Public bodies and decisions in particular policy areas
2.38. Many respondents commented on the need to include public bodies or decisions in particular policy areas, with a lot of overlap between the types of bodies and the types of decisions.
2.39. The areas mentioned for inclusion were public bodies and decisions relating to:
- Community safety.
- Economic development and planning.
- Education, arts and culture.
- Employment and benefits.
- Energy and Power.
- Environment and tourism.
- Health and social care.
- Housing and building.
- Waste management.
2.40. Those highlighted most frequently were: health and social care; transport; environment; economic development and planning; and education, arts and culture.
Public bodies by particular type of organisation
2.41. Some respondents provided details of the nature of particular public bodies for inclusion by type, such as:
- Central and local government.
- Community Councils and groups.
- Community Planning Partnerships / Partners.
- Executive agencies.
- Non Departmental Public Bodies ( NDPBs) both executive and advisory.
- Public Corporations.
- Regulatory bodies.
2.42. A few respondents suggested that third sector and third sector interface bodies should also be covered by the guidance. Many suggested particular named organisations or types of organisation, and a list has been included at Annex 3.
Decisions on particular topics
2.43. Many respondents provided examples from each policy area of the types of decisions they felt the guidance should relate to (sometimes with detailed examples of specific issues for consideration). These are summarised below.
2.44. The types of communications decisions respondents felt the guidance should relate to included: digital connectivity, the digital network, broadband and mobile service provision; general telecommunications; postal services and costs; standards and coverage.
2.45. The types of economic development and planning decisions respondents felt the guidance should relate to included: economic and social development; trade development; sustainable development; local business, innovation and enterprise; food pricing; engineering; fishing and fisheries management; farming; crofting; land use; animal health and welfare; planning frameworks; trading standards; structure, infrastructure and regulation.
2.46. The types of education, arts and culture decisions respondents felt the guidance should relate to included: education and lifelong learning opportunities; skills development; school provision; rural education; access to further and higher education; education priorities and standards; Gaelic language; arts, heritage and culture.
2.47. The types of employment and benefits decisions respondents felt the guidance should relate to included: employment opportunities; access to training; unemployment, welfare and benefits; income and wage levels; and youth employment.
2.48. The types of energy and power decisions respondents felt the guidance should relate to included: energy development; energy efficiency programmes; fuel availability; power generation; energy transmission; fuel tariffs and prices; fuel poverty; and renewable energy.
2.49. The types of environment and tourism decisions respondents felt the guidance should relate to included: protection of the island environment; flooding; maritime issues; marine planning; ports; land use; Crown Estate functions; road maintenance and grading; and tourism priorities.
2.50. The types of financial decisions respondents felt the guidance should relate to included: funding (including the distribution of EU structural and other funding, and Third Sector funding); procurement; spending and distribution of resources; support to rural and island areas; taxation; and investment.
2.51. The types of health and social care decisions respondents felt the guidance should relate to included: health policy, overall provision and standards; means and model of delivery of health and social care; access to services; recruitment and staffing; integration of health and social care; and regulation of social care.
2.52. The types of housing and building decisions respondents felt the guidance should relate to included: housing investment and supply; housing development; social housing; construction; planning requirements; building regulations and standards; repairs and improvements.
2.53. The types of community safety decisions respondents felt the guidance should relate to included: policing local areas; gun licensing; use of custody; emergency planning; emergency services' staffing and training; and operational issues.
2.54. The types of transport decisions respondents felt the guidance should relate to included: national transport policy; transport infrastructure and integration; transport links (with the mainland and inter-island); transport funding; prices, fares, subsidies and concessions; operation of transport services (bus; ferry; air); lifeline travel; access to services; timetables; ticketing; safety; RTE; and the deployment of assets.
2.55. The types of waste management decisions respondents felt the guidance should relate to included: water and waste infrastructure; recycling; marine pollution; waste collection; licensed disposal sites; charges and costs; and application of targets and standards.
2.56. Several respondents stated more generally that the guidance should cover decisions about policy and practice relating to the delivery of all services to the islands, and to all areas of service providers' responsibilities. It was suggested that this should include decisions about:
- Overall policy.
- Levels and costs of service.
- Access to services.
- Future provision.
- Local engagement.
- Targets, data gathering and statistics.
- Resources and costs.
2.57. One respondent stated that the preparation of Single Outcome Agreements ( SOAs) should be subject to island-proofing and another that this should apply to local government budget allocation and use. A few respondents mentioned that the approach should be applied when any national reviews of policy were carried out. One respondent stated that island-proofing should be applied retrospectively to existing laws and regulations.
2.58. Several respondents suggested a need to include decisions relating to some wider UK and EU issues ( e.g. EU and national designations on land and water; animal transport legislation; energy policy; transport links; socio-economic activity; food production; and distribution of EU structural funds, as noted). It was argued that it would make sense that policies and legislation from EU institutions were subject to island-proofing.
2.59. Some stated that the Scottish Government should take the interests of the islands into account when negotiating with the UK Government and the EU, or that there should be formalisation of island-proofing between the Scottish and UK Governments and UK institutions.
2.60. One respondent stated that the UK Government should adopt the guidance for consideration of policy reserved to them and all their agencies with a remit in Scotland. Another stated that island-proofing should apply to all UK Government laws where they applied to the Scottish islands.
2.61. One respondent expressed the view that the Scottish Government should also make a commitment to exert pressure on not only public, but also private organisations to recognise island issues, when, for example, setting rates or standards for universal services.
Question 4: Other areas for the policy of island-proofing to cover
2.62. Question 4 asked:
"Are there any other areas that you feel the policy of island-proofing should cover?"
2.63. Just under three quarters of respondents (72%) addressed Question 4. Many of the comments focused on the types of public bodies or the types of decision that should be covered by island-proofing and the statutory guidance (as detailed above).
2.64. A few additional common themes were identified:
- Key issues to take into account in island-proofing.
- The nature of the overall approach.
- The benefits and nature of the statutory guidance.
- Implementation issues and suggestions for the way forward.
Key issues to take into account in island-proofing
2.65. Many respondents suggested some broad issues that island-proofing should take into account. These included the need to consider all aspects of island life and the general well-being of island communities. Some also suggested the general need to take account of the particular challenges and strengths of the Scottish islands which were highlighted in responses to Question 1 (paras 2.10, 1.11 and 2.23) and will not be reiterated in detail here.
2.66. Some additional, specific issues were mentioned, including the need to recognise the impact on islands of previous experiences. One respondent, for example, stated that years of decline could lead to a loss of confidence and sense of identity in small communities. A few respondents mentioned a need to take account of fragile economies.
2.67. Comments were also made about the challenges of service delivery, and the need, for example, to have alternative arrangements in place where someone could not access a service. A few respondents highlighted the particular impact of some of the island challenges on specific groups (particularly some equality groups). Examples included:
- Lack of access to local support for parents of disabled children.
- Difficulties for women and children experiencing domestic abuse.
- Isolation and fuel poverty among elderly people.
- Limited care sector provision and community capacity to meet the needs of elderly people.
- General inequality of outcomes or opportunities.
- Social exclusion.
2.68. There was seen to be a need to take account of all of these issues in island-proofing.
2.69. A small number of respondents stated that funding for Scotland's councils with responsibility for islands should be kept under review, and that this should be a key element of island-proofing.
The nature of the overall approach
2.70. Many respondents made comments about the nature of the overall approach that should be taken to island-proofing, to the guidance, or to the Islands Bill overall. It was suggested that this should recognise and promote:
- Equality (including a recognition that specific actions may be required to ensure equality and prevent further disadvantage).
- Diversity (recognition of the diversity of islands, including within island groups; inclusion of all island communities).
- Flexibility and proportionality (with the potential for variation in responses to issues facing particular islands; and a recognition that not all public body operations will have equal relevance to islands).
- Responsiveness (with a focus on local needs).
- Community empowerment and leadership (with increased local decision-making; consultation; inclusion of a strong and representative "island voice" in decision-making, and on relevant Boards and Advisory Groups; and increased powers at a local level).
- A positive, meaningful and proactive approach (including that this should be more than a tokenistic or "tick-box" approach; and should recognise islands' potential).
- Joint working (between government, public bodies and communities and at all levels).
- Transparency and accountability (including a need for clear lines of communication).
2.71. Several respondents stated that the island-proofing approach should be embedded in the process for assessing decisions ( e.g. in a similar way to the public sector Equality Duty). A few respondents also stated that there should be early assessment, and that island issues should be considered at all stages. One stated that there should be a systematic approach that could be challenged effectively.
2.72. Several respondents stated specifically that island-proofing should be a legal duty, and should be mandatory, and that the duty (and guidance) should encompass the principles of Articles 170 and 174 of the Lisbon Treaty. A few respondents suggested that appropriate mechanisms to reinforce island-proofing in a European context, such as the Ordinary Legislative Procedure ( OLP), should also be explored.
2.73. A few respondents made reference to the relevance of the findings and principles of the Montgomery Committee (1984)  , and the duties in "Empowering Scotland's Island Communities"  . A few respondents stated that there was scope for amendment of the Standing Orders.
The benefits and nature of the statutory guidance
2.74. Several respondents commented on the specific nature, benefits or importance of statutory guidance (in addition to the benefits of island-proofing mentioned previously). It was suggested, for example, that this would help to improve awareness and understanding of island issues, and ensure a consistent approach by public bodies.
2.75. Some comments were made on the types of issues that should be covered in the guidance, such as:
- The definition of island-proofing.
- The implications of island-proofing and how it should be implemented.
- The level of island-proofing required, and matters of detail.
- Key considerations required.
- The specific minimum level of provision to island communities.
- Consultation and involvement of local communities.
- Other relevant legislation.
2.76. A small number of respondents suggested that examples could be used to promote good practice. One, for example, stated that central bodies should demonstrate how things can work in small rural settings. Another stated that the findings of a local commission on tackling inequalities could be a valuable source of examples of how people could be disadvantaged by a "one size fits all" approach  . A small number of respondents stated that the guidance should provide vision in the island communities.
2.77. A few respondents suggested that local partners and members of island communities should be involved in developing the approach and writing the guidance. One stated that thought should be given to the level of specificity in the guidance.
2.78. One respondent stated that specific guidance should also be issued to civil and public servants about the challenges of rurality and the specific challenges facing island communities.
2.79. A few respondents expressed the view that the guidance should take account of reducing resource levels, and should not require additional resources for implementation.
Implementation issues and suggestions for the way forward
2.80. Many respondents made comments on implementation issues and suggestions for the way forward for island-proofing, guidance and / or the Islands Bill.
Terminology and definition
2.81. Among these, a common theme related to the terminology and definition of island-proofing. Some found the term unclear or inappropriate. It was also suggested that there was a need to differentiate between islands and island authorities. One respondent stated that it may have been more appropriate to have considered establishing a Commission to investigate the concept.
2.82. Several respondents stressed a need for further refining and clarification of the term. A few suggested the use of alternative terminology, such as "island resilience"; "islands-aware"; "islands-ready" and "island enabling". A few suggested "rural-proofing", or "remote and rural proofing", reflecting other comments discussed below. A small number of respondents suggested joint working to identify a mutually acceptable language.
Extension of focus / coverage
2.83. A further theme, mentioned by several respondents, was the potential extension of the focus of the Bill, and the concept of island-proofing, to other areas. Several respondents suggested that some of the challenges experienced by islands were also apparent in remote and rural areas of Scotland. As such, some argued that "proofing", mitigation and amendments should be extended to these areas. A small number of respondents suggested specific areas for inclusion.
2.84. A small number of respondents, however, stated that island-proofing should cover the islands only, and not any part of the mainland.
2.85. One respondent mentioned the range of challenges faced by communities in deprived urban areas and suggested that the concept of "proofing" should be taken into account with those areas.
2.86. One respondent stated that a package of proposals for island-proofing could sit alongside a package of proposals for "local government proofing", which would provide an effective level of "proofing" across the whole of local government.
Monitoring, challenge and review
2.87. A further issue raised was a need for a process for monitoring, scrutiny, challenge and review of policy and decisions.
2.88. Suggestions included that island communities should not only be able to input their views to any new legislation, but that they should be able to question policy on the basis of island-proofing, and that there should be power to review and change provision where necessary. A few respondents stated, for example, that island communities should have the right to scrutinise new legislation and recommend amendments, but, failing the adoption of these, they should have the right to "opt out" of the legislation.
2.89. One respondent suggested that there should be mandatory arbitration facilitated by an independent third party in the event of significant disagreement between an island community and a public body.
2.90. Some respondents suggested a need for independent assessment through, for example, an Independent Commission which could examine ways to reinforce island-proofing, with representation from island communities. A further suggestion was to carry this out via a compliance committee in the Scottish Parliament.
2.91. A small number of respondents expressed the view that the establishment of a Scottish Parliamentary Committee with responsibility for islands could enable public bodies to be called to account for how they ensure that island communities receive equitable services. A few stated that the Islands Desk at the Scottish Government should be made permanent.
2.92. One respondent stated that there should be inbuilt reserve powers to enable changes to be introduced, in the light of practical experience.
2.93. A few additional actions were suggested (by small numbers in each case). Comments included that:
- An independent research organisation should be established, to undertake research on relevant issues across many sectors (such as SINTEF in Norway).
- The third sector should be treated as an equal partner, given its importance in the delivery of services.
- Action should be taken to redress the current under-representation of islands in the Scottish media.
- More financial resources should be made available to facilitate consultation and engagement with local communities.
2.94. Some comments were also made about changes of powers, or structural changes to decision-making, and these have been included in Section 3.
There is a problem
Thanks for your feedback