This guidance provides the tools to help you complete an Island Communities Impact Assessment (ICIA) as required under the Islands (Scotland) Act 2018 (the Act). In particular, this guidance is about the Section 7 duty of the Act according to which a Relevant Authority must have regard to island communities in carrying out its functions.
This guidance stresses the importance of consultation and robust community engagement so that islanders are given a platform to voice their opinions, concerns and suggestions. It also addresses the need to consult island communities in order for a Relevant Authority to comply with the Section 7 duty.
It's important to also note that the Act (Section 11) requires that a Relevant Authority must have regard to this guidance.
Our islands face particular challenges around distance, geography, connectivity and demography, so it is important that policy makers consider these properly. It is also important that you make sure islands receive fair and equitable treatment and that your policy, strategy or service outcomes are tailored to their unique circumstances.
This guidance will tell you how to assess and take into account the impacts your policies, strategies or services might have on island communities in Scotland. It sets out a seven-step process for you to follow and provides you with a template at Annex B that you can use to carry out your assessment.
We hope that we have provided you with a clear and transparent process that will help you to fully document your evidence and reasons for your decisions. Should you feel that you require support in understanding the detail in this document, we can provide you with mentoring or further advice. Please make contact at the earliest opportunity (probably before you begin your assessment). We can also arrange to deliver a seminar to your team if that would be helpful.
From time to time we will review this document to ensure that it remains fit for purpose. As such, we welcome any comments you may have on it. You can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Islands (Scotland) Act 2018
The Islands (Scotland) Act 2018 was passed by the Scottish Parliament in 2018 and is only one of a handful of place-based pieces of legislation to focus specifically on islands in the world.
The measures it contains, like the Island Communities Impact Assessment, are designed to meaningfully improve outcomes for island communities. The provisions in Sections 7 to 14 of the Act came into force on 23 December 2020.
Before carrying out your ICIA, you might find it helpful to look specifically at the two main duties under Sections 7 and 8 of the Act.
Section 7 states that a Relevant Authority must have regard to island communities in carrying out its functions.
Section 10 sets out how a Relevant Authority demonstrates compliance with the duty imposed by Section 7. It will do so:
(a) by making such arrangements as it considers appropriate to review any policy, strategy or service (as the case may be) which it develops or delivers in carrying out its functions, and
(i) in the case where the authority must prepare an island communities impact assessment under section 8(1), by preparing that assessment, or
(ii) in any other case, by making such an assessment or taking such other steps as the authority considers appropriate.
Under Section 10 of the Act, part of how a Relevant Authority demonstrates compliance with the Section 7 duty is by making arrangements it considers appropriate to review any policy, strategy or service. This will mean that existing policies, strategies and services will require to be reviewed by a Relevant Authority going forward, regardless of whether there is any formal application for review.
Section 8 states that a Relevant Authority must prepare an ICIA in relation to a policy, strategy, or service, which, in the authority's opinion, is likely to have an effect on an island community which is significantly different from its effect on other communities (including other island communities) in the area in which the authority exercises its functions.
Steps One to Five will help you comply with the Section 7 duty. Again, it's really important to remember that effective and meaningful consultation throughout the process with island communities will be vital.
A template has been provided at Annex C for you to record how you have complied with the Section 7 duty having regard to the requirements of Section 10. Effective consultation will be an important part of being able to demonstrate compliance with the Section 7 duty.
The Act lists those Relevant Authorities who are required to comply with the duties under Sections 7 to 12 of the Act. This list can also be seen at Annex A of this guide. Each Relevant Authority is responsible for ensuring it fulfils its duties under the Act.
Section 13 of the Act states that the Scottish Ministers must prepare an ICIA in relation to legislation which, in their opinion, is likely to have an effect on an island community which is significantly different from its effect on other communities (including other island communities) in Scotland. So, this guidance is also designed for use by the Scottish Ministers when developing policies, strategies and services to be implemented by prospective legislation.
You can see all of the relevant provisions, but if you have any questions about any of this, or if you would like a hard copy of the Act, please contact us at email@example.com and we will be happy to help.
The National Islands Plan
In December 2019, Scottish Ministers published the first-ever National Islands Plan, which was created with the input of many islanders and those with a strong interest in Scotland's islands. The Plan sets out thirteen Strategic Objectives which will also be critical over the next five years to improving the quality of life for island communities.
The Plan recognises that Gaelic is important to many of the island communities and is included in many of the Strategic Objectives. The Plan recognises that every member of society has a right to live with dignity and to enjoy high quality public services wherever they live. This commitment is also an explicit National Outcome within Scotland's National Performance Framework.
So, when you are developing your policy, strategy or service, it is important that you consider the National Islands Plan, its commitment to fairness and its Strategic Objectives. Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like a hard copy in Gaelic or English.
What is an island community?
The Islands (Scotland) Act 2018 defines an island community as a community which consists of two or more individuals, all of whom permanently inhabit an island (whether or not the same island), and is based on common interest, identity or geography (including in relation to any uninhabited islands whose natural or cultural environment and terrestrial, marine and associated ecosystems and history contribute to the natural or cultural heritage or economy of an inhabited island). To make sure that that you take into account the uniqueness of each of our island communities, you should be as inclusive as possible – specifically through consultation with island communities. When you are developing your policy, service or strategy you must listen very carefully to the voices of islanders and provide them with feedback throughout the process.
Why is an ICIA important?
Making sure that your ICIA is done well is important because island communities can face many challenges when compared with mainland and urban areas. For example, on an island it can be more difficult to access public services or high-quality employment. Also, the consequences of geography can create particular problems for island communities. These might include for example, a higher general cost of living, more expensive and more complex transport options, higher fuel or construction costs as well as environmental factors and infrastructure issues such as poor digital connectivity.
Islands also have cultural assets which can be positively or adversely affected by policy changes. The profile of Gaelic is important to many island communities. Public authorities operating in island communities have the potential to make an important contribution to Gaelic in sectors such as employment, housing, education, arts, community matters and more. An ICIA should also consider what impact the policy, strategy or services may have on the languages and the cultural heritage relevant to that island community.
Island rurality can exacerbate inequality already experienced on account of age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation. These characteristics are known as "protected characteristics" as defined in the Equality Act 2010. Issues which impact on all islanders to some extent, such as those relating to access to transport or adequate housing for example, may be acutely felt by some groups more than others and require targeted measures in order to redress the inequality experienced.
Island Communities Impact Assessments are also designed to cover existing policies, strategies and services, particularly when being updated or revised - not just new ones.
Done well, your ICIA will:
- make sure that you keep islands and their communities in mind throughout the development, implementation and delivery of your policy, strategy or service.
- help us to support strong, resilient and vibrant island communities.
- help us to meet the four principles of fairness, integration, environmental protection (green) and inclusiveness that underpin the National Islands Plan and our work to support island communities.
- promote the voices of island communities.
- recognise that every person in Scotland has a right to live with dignity and to enjoy high quality public services wherever they live.
We know that you will need to strike a balance to ensure your approach to the process is not unduly burdensome, but it is critical that it is robust and meaningful. Crucially, your ICIA should not be a "tick box" exercise. It's important to remember that any decisions you make should be clearly set out and well documented. This will help you in the event of a review of a decision relating to an ICIA under Section 9 of the Act.
Section 9 of the Act provides that the Scottish Ministers must by regulations make provision about reviews of decisions of relevant authorities relating to island communities impact assessments under section 8(1).
These regulations, to be known as the Island Communities Impact Assessments (Publication and Review of Decisions) (Scotland) Regulations 2020 came into force on 23 December 2020. These regulations introduce a process whereby applications can be made to Relevant Authorities to carry out a review of a decision relating to an ICIA. It will therefore be important for you to be able to demonstrate compliance with Section 8 of the Act (and in the case of Scottish Ministers, where the ICIA relates to policies, strategies and services to be implemented by legislation, section 13).
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