National Islands Plan Annual Report 2022

The Islands (Scotland) Act 2018 requires that a report is presented to Parliament each year setting out the progress made towards delivery of the National Islands Plan. This report sets out progress made during the 2022 reporting year.

Climate Change and Energy

Strategic Objective 9 – To contribute to climate change mitigation and adaptation and promote clean, affordable and secure energy

We committed to work with island communities to support their climate change aspirations.

Implementation Route Map action

  • We will support the development of one or more community climate action hubs across our islands, empowering communities to identify the actions that are most appropriate to their needs and provide support in their local areas. They will help groups to take advantage of funding opportunities and promote collaboration between projects.
  • The Programme for Government states that we will identify at least three of our islands to progress towards becoming fully carbon neutral by 2040. We are taking this ambition even further, aiming to support six islands to progress towards being fully carbon neutral by 2040.
  • A report will be published on the Carbon Neutral Islands Project in summer 2022. This will set out the islands that will be part of the project. We will consult with communities to understand local impacts.

Work is ongoing in relation to this commitment.

The North Highlands and Islands Climate Hub supports communities across Orkney and Shetland, raising awareness of the climate emergency and enabling groups to take climate action.

Work to date has focused on raising awareness and capacity building. There is now high interest in training and networking events from groups and individuals on the islands. The Hub has run several online training events as well as holding climate conversations, offering groups seed funding, project support and signposting to wider funding opportunities.

In October, the Climate Action Hub delivered the Orkney Climate Festival in conjunction with the Orkney Science Festival, with events held in fifteen localities. They are working with the Orkney Local Acton Group and with Shetland Islands Council to develop community climate action networks on the Islands.

Carbon Neutral Islands

The Carbon Neutral Islands project is supporting six island communities in their journey towards carbon neutrality in a bottom-up way. Our delivery partner Community Energy Scotland have developed local steering groups on each of the six islands. These steering groups have identified local anchor organisations that have employed community development officers who will co-ordinate input from the community into the project. This work will lead to community climate change action plans which provide communities the chance to prioritise how they want to decarbonise. Work in the next financial year will focus on supporting them achieve the aims of these plans.

Whilst the project is directly supporting six islands, a key driver is replicability. Knowledge exchange and good practices stemming from the project will be shared to other islands across Scotland.

We committed to work with island communities to look at alternative solutions to managing waste, particularly in respect of Scotland's Circular Economy Strategy.

Implementation Route Map action

This year's Programme for Government committed us to the development of a route map to achieving our recycling and waste targets for 2025 and beyond. This is in development for consultation later this year which will include consideration of the impact on island communities. We are also committed to bringing forward a Circular Economy Bill and will undertake an Island Communities Impact Assessment as part of this.

Work is ongoing in relation to this commitment.

In May 2022, we consulted on a Circular Economy Bill and Waste Route Map, setting out the actions that must be taken to meet Scotland's waste targets and deliver a circular economy in Scotland. These consultations set out considerations and potential impacts for island communities, and sought further views, information or evidence relating to these impacts. The Island Communities Impact Assessment Screening for the Route Map can be found online.

The analysis of the response to the consultation on the Bill proposals has been published. The analysis of the response to the Waste Route Map consultation will be published in early 2023. Following analysis, development and research work, we will publish the final Route Map later in 2023. As part of this process, we are committed to assessing the impact of proposals on island communities, and the feedback we have received will be used to update the initial impact assessments accompanying the original consultation.

The Circular Economy Bill will be brought forward ahead of summer recess (2023) and will include an Island Communities Impact Assessment.

The Scottish Government, through Zero Waste Scotland, has continued to collaborate closely with local authorities to help those currently without solutions for their residual waste when the ban on landfilling residual municipal waste comes into force in 2025, to secure contracts. This includes providing centrally supported procurement and legal, technical and procurement consultancy support, as well as working through a dedicated Highlands and Islands group to consider challenges specific for these authorities managing their waste.

The Scottish Government provided funding for a marine litter development officer post through the Scottish Islands Federation, for the duration of the 2022/23 financial year. The main outcomes of this post were focused on the unique problems islands may face regarding types of marine litter, and to support the circular economy through job creation. The post is investigating and developing a methodology for data collection of beach litter on islands, to ascertain if islands are impacted by certain types of marine litter. The results of these studies will be used by Marine Scotland to assist future policy development. By investigating alternatives to landfill to better manage marine waste and litter, the post is supporting island communities towards a more circular economy.

We committed to work with local authorities to help them work towards their statutory targets.

Implementation Route Map action

Work has yet to be progressed in relation to this commitment but will be considered and actions defined during 2022.

Work is ongoing in relation to this commitment.

Green Growth Accelerator

Through our Green Growth Accelerator (GGA) programme, we are initially supporting six pathfinder projects, including the Net Zero Hub in Lewis. The creation of the Net Zero Hub will be the first step in demonstrating the islands' green hydrogen capability and will stimulate private investment in an array of low carbon activities.

The Green Growth Accelerator programme, launched in June 2021, aims to unlock £200 million of capital investment in low carbon infrastructure that supports our transition to net zero. This is a notable example of the Scottish Government's ambitious and integrated approach with local authorities, demonstrating how, by working together, we can capitalise on the economic, environmental and social benefits that our journey to net-zero present.


Through the Adaptation Scotland Programme, we have supported the Outer Hebrides Community Planning Partnership's (OHCPP) Climate Change Working Group (CCWG) since 2019 to develop adaptation planning activities on the islands. During 2022 we helped the group to develop a Climate Rationale, and an accompanying Case for Action.

The OHCPP board has now welcomed and approved both documents, setting a positive direction of travel for the OHCPP to move from evidence gathering, capacity building and awareness raising activities to focus on developing and delivering adaptation actions, and accessing resources to enable a safer, healthier and flourishing Outer Hebrides.

We committed to work towards creating net zero emission islands and providing global climate change leadership.

Implementation Route Map action

  • We will publish a report setting out the steps we will take to support six islands in becoming carbon neutral as part of the Carbon Neutral Islands Project. Community consultation and relevant impact assessments will be completed to allow for the implementation phase of the project to begin in 2022.
  • We will publish an Islands Energy Strategy in 2023 setting out approach to decarbonisation for Scotland's island communities, ensuring that their differing needs and priorities are reflected, and that renewables solutions implemented promote resilience, enhance sustainability and meet energy needs now and in the future. The Strategy will support the delivery of actions outlined in our Heat and Buildings Strategy Island Communities Impact Assessment including the Carbon Neutral Island's commitment and review of the evidence base and options for an 'islands uplift' across our delivery programmes as part of our commitment to provide additional support for rural and island homes for heat and energy efficiency.

Work is ongoing in relation to this commitment.

Heat Strategy

The Scottish Government has committed to investing at least £1.8 billion in heat and energy efficiency over the course of this Parliament, and this includes support to households in island communities.

In December 2022 we launched the new Home Energy Scotland (HES) Grant and Loan scheme with a new rural uplift of £1,500 applicable to both the heat pump and energy efficiency grants. This uplift increases the heat pump grant flat rate and the maximum limit of the energy efficiency grant to £9,000 to reflect higher delivery costs in more remote areas.

Our Area Based Schemes aim to reduce fuel poverty by enabling local authorities to design and deliver energy efficiency programmes in fuel poor areas. Households in extreme fuel poverty in remote rural and island areas can benefit from energy efficiency improvements worth up to £21,100 as part of this scheme.

Heat in Buildings

The Community and Renewable Energy Scheme (CARES), delivered by Local Energy Scotland (LES) on behalf of the Scottish Government, behalf provides advice and support – including funding – to communities across Scotland, including our island communities, looking to develop renewable energy, heat decarbonisation and energy efficiency projects.

The Let's Do Net Zero: Community Buildings Fund provides a rolling programme of support to communities, charities and faith organisations across Scotland to decarbonise their buildings and reduce energy bills. This support takes a whole building retrofit approach covering energy efficiency measures, zero emissions heat installations and additional small-scale generation where there is a clear benefit to the community organisation in terms of energy bill reduction.

In addition, CARES is providing a tailored package of support to some of Scotland's more remote and rural off-grid communities, helping them to upgrade their energy systems and decarbonise their energy supplies.

Carbon Neutral Islands

The Carbon Neutral Islands project, which aims to support six islands reach carbon neutrality by 2040 in a just way, is now being delivered on Barra, Cumbrae, Hoy, Islay, Raasay and Yell.

We committed £820,000 to support the development of carbon audits and Community Climate Change Action plans on each island. This work is being led by Community Energy Scotland (CES). To embed the project within island communities CES has supported the development of a steering group on each of the six islands. These steering groups have identified local anchor organisations who have employed community development officers who will co-ordinate input from the community into the project. The project is intended to benefit all Scottish islands, not only those included directly as part of the project. This will be through knowledge exchange and sharing of good practices stemming from implementation. This year we are also mapping net zero related skills with a view of collaborating with partners to strengthen training and programme delivery in these fields.

We published a progress report setting out the steps taken so far in January 2023.

We committed to put in place resilient adaptation plans on islands that are at greater risk from climate change linking these strongly with development plans for those islands.

Implementation Route Map action

  • Dynamic Coast 2, which identifies lengths of coastline at risk of erosion from the sea, was published in August 2021. This work considers how future sea level rise could further exacerbate coastal erosion and erosion-enhanced coastal flooding. We are encouraging councils to prepare coastal change adaptation plans using evidence from Dynamic Coast. A new budget to help councils plan for and take action to adapt to coastal change will be distributed to councils in their general capital grant settlement from 2022‑23.
  • Continued engagement through the Adaptation Scotland Programme with the Island Community Planning Partnerships, local authorities and support of the development of climate impact assessments and adaptation plans.

Work is ongoing in relation to this commitment.

Supporting partners in the Outer Hebrides

  • During 2022, the Adaptation Scotland programme has continued to support partners in the Outer Hebrides Community Planning Partnership's (OHCPP) Climate Change Working Group (CCWG) by:
  • Assisting the group to take stock of successes, challenges, and enablers of adaptation through online focus group discussions run by Sniffer, using the Scottish Government-funded Traction Framework.
  • Facilitating an in-person workshop series to consolidate and analyse the group's evidence base, before co-developing and publishing a Climate Rationale and Case for Action. These documents will help the OHCPP identify, agree and implement locally led actions and explore opportunities to establish sustained, long-term resources to support the work in the islands moving forwards.
  • Funding and commissioning a local artist in collaboration with the Met Office UK and local partners to develop a creative 'Climate Storyline' – the first project of its kind in the UK. The Climate Storyline uses soundscapes to combine Met Office analysis of future changes to winter storms with local lived experience of climate impacts. Adaptation Scotland also supported local partners to trial the Storyline piece in a variety of community and engagement settings to prompt discussions about climate impacts and adaptation priorities, and it remains an open-source engagement tool for use in future.

Work to date with partners in the Outer Hebrides has built a strong, collaborative partnership. Adaptation Scotland is delighted to see partners moving from evidence gathering, capacity building and awareness raising activities to focus on developing and delivering actions, and accessing resources to enable a safer, healthier and flourishing Outer Hebrides.

Working with other islands

Adaptation Scotland is also supporting other islands, for example by:

  • Facilitating discussion between Shetland Islands Council and partners in the Outer Hebrides to share learning to support the Shetland Community Partnership's goal to create a place-based Shetland Area Climate Change Strategy and action plan.
  • Delivering a full day Highlands and Islands Place Based Adaptation knowledge sharing event in December 2022, in partnership with Highland Adapts and Highlands and Islands Enterprise. This hybrid event bought attendees together in Inverness and online to explore tools to embed local knowledge in adaptation and place-based action. Of just under forty attendees, fifteen island representatives participated from the Outer Hebrides, Shetland, Orkney and Raasay, representing local authorities and community groups.

Carbon Neutral Islands – initial steps on adaptation

During December 2022 Adaptation Scotland worked with Community Energy Scotland to develop a process to help the six carbon neutral islands incorporate adaptation and resilience into the Carbon Neutral Islands project. In addition to project representatives attending the event above, Adaptation Scotland is collaborating with the Community Development Officers for each island so that they are equipped to:

  • Understand climate impacts for their island now and in future;
  • Use processes and resources to involve communities in understanding how their place will be impacted by climate change and what is needed to strengthen locally led action
  • Have greater insight into the scale of resources, skills and finances that may be needed to address climate resilience at an island scale.

Water Environment and Resilience

Argyll and Bute, Highland, Orkney and Shetland Councils have been prioritised for funding for coastal change adaptation and have each received £160,000 capital funding in 2022-23.

Dynamic Coast provided data and analysis assistance to Orkney Islands Council, to enable them to better understand coastal change and flood risks to communities, infrastructure and assets. Such analysis supports Orkney Islands Council's proposed LiDAR survey (2023-24) and contributes towards their planned Coastal Change Adaptation Plan (2024 onwards). Dynamic Coast also provided data to Comhairle nan Eilean Siar and climate partnership in support of their Climate Adaptation work, and data and advice to Luing Community Council.

We committed to work closely with island partners, the network owner and all other key stakeholders to deliver existing proposals for electricity transmission links to mainland Scotland.

Implementation Route Map action

  • We will continue to engage closely with island local authorities and industry to assess the risks and opportunities as Scottish island wind projects approach this year's Contract for Difference (CfD) allocation round.
  • Scottish Ministers will continue to make clear to Ofgem that its decisions on island links must take the net zero imperative more fully into account and incorporate a more flexible approach to what are vital strategic investments.

Work is ongoing in relation to this commitment.

The Scottish Government believes that the progress of energy generation developments on our islands, and their influence on the delivery of transmission links to the Scottish mainland, will help stimulate economic growth as the economy recovers from COVID-19. Developing these abundant resources can also help unlock the islands' potential to supply low-cost renewable electricity for the benefit of consumers across Scotland and Great Britain, as well as many social, community and economic benefits.

Work has begun on the first stage of the Shetland High Voltage Direct-Current link project. When complete, this subsea cable will link Shetland with the UK's mainland grid and provide a reliable means of transmitting substantial amounts of power over long distances, unlocking Shetland's potential for exporting future renewable energy generation.

In December 2022, Ofgem approved the need for a new 1.8GW link, connecting onshore and offshore wind in the region to the GB electricity system. This was an important milestone for communities and developers who have been waiting for decades to unlock the abundant renewable resources on the islands.

The Scottish Government will continue to call on Ofgem to ensure there are no delays to the new 1.8GW interconnector and to remove any remaining barriers. This includes addressing the issue of transmission charges which continue to frustrate development in regions with the greatest resources.

The Scottish Government has continued to work with stakeholders including BEIS and Ofgem to remove barriers to deployment and investment in Scotland. We also continue to engage closely with island councils and industry to assess the risks and opportunities as Scottish island wind projects approach this year's Contract for Difference (CfD) allocation round.

We committed to work with Resilience Partnerships and energy providers to encourage them to focus on the resilience of islands' energy supply networks.

Implementation Route Map action

  • The Scottish Government Energy Networks Strategic Leadership Group will continue to be an influential forum for discussing the development of Scotland’s energy networks.
  • We await the outcomes of draft business plans submitted to Ofgem in December which will influence our approach to the coming year.

Work is ongoing in relation to this commitment.

We want to ensure the fastest possible just transition from dependence on a fossil fuel energy system to one that maximises the value we obtain from Scotland’s rich and varied renewable energy resource.

Some Islands communities rely on carbon intensive diesel generation as a backup in the event of an extended cable fault. These arrangements for securing supplies are not compatible with the transition to net zero, as diesel generation is carbon intensive, costly to operate and sometimes needs to operate for long periods while islands are disconnected from the mainland. In situations such as these, local renewables may need to be turned off to ensure the network operates within safety parameters.

Our recently published draft Energy Strategy and Just Transition Plan has identified that there is an opportunity to explore solutions for these situations and we will work to understand more about this ahead of the final Strategy and Plan.

We committed to work with transport-related stakeholders to have the most energy-efficient and climate-friendly transport services possible across the islands.

Implementation Route Map action

Transport Scotland has consulted on developing an aviation strategy (closed 21 January 2022). The responses will help us to determine how the Highlands and Islands commitments noted can be progressed:

  • We have committed to decarbonising scheduled flights within Scotland by 2040.
  • Aim to create the world’s first zero emission aviation region in partnership with Highlands and Islands Airports.
  • Exploring the potential for the purchase of zero/low emission aircraft.
  • Continue to examine the scope for utilising hybrid and low carbon energy sources in the public sector marine fleet as part of our vessel replacement programme.
  • Additionally, as part of the Islands Connectivity Plan, we will explore and consult on pathways to zero/low emission ferry transport.

During 2022 we have continued to work with a range of transport stakeholders to support development of EV infrastructure guidance and to refine our draft Vision for future public charging networks in Scotland, the final Vision will be published early 2023.

The Vision recognises the potential challenges that islands may experience in attracting private sector investment to support growth of charging networks at scale as part of a just transition, that the future charging network should work for all of Scotland and that EV charging should be powered by clean, green, renewable energy.

Working with the Scottish Futures Trust, we have provided support to local authorities to develop EV charging strategies and expansion plans, including planning related to EV infrastructure requirements across all of Scotland’s islands. We have continued to support the Energy Saving Trust to develop guidance that will support the planning and delivery of electric vehicle infrastructure, this guidance includes cases studies from some of Scotland’s islands, the guides are expected to be published early 2023 and will help to inform planning for future zero emission transport infrastructure in island communities.

We committed to continue working to unleash the potential of renewable energy as both a way to mitigate climate change and as a driver of sustainable and inclusive economic growth.

Implementation Route Map action

The Energy Strategy Just Transition Plan will be published in 2022. This will take a whole-systems view of how the energy sector must evolve to drive our transition to net zero. The document will also set out what is needed to deliver a just transition for the sector, in line with the principles laid out in our National Transition Planning Framework, published in September 2021. The Plan will also consider how, for example, the islands’ abundant renewable energy resources can further contribute to meeting Scotland’s climate commitments whilst supporting strong local economies, and addressing existing social and economic inequality.

Work is ongoing in relation to this commitment.

On 10 January 2023, the draft Energy Strategy and Just Transition Plan (ESJTP) was published for consultation. This sets out our vision that, by 2045, Scotland will have a flourishing, climate friendly energy system that delivers affordable, resilient and clean energy supplies for Scotland’s households, communities and businesses. The draft ESJTP sets out a route map of ambitions, milestones and actions to deliver on the vision and will guide decision making and policy support out to 2030. This involves ensuring that the transition delivers maximum benefit for all parts of Scotland, including island communities, enabling us to achieve our wider climate and environmental ambitions, drive the development of a wellbeing economy and deliver a just transition.

Reflecting our commitment to a just transition across all parts of Scotland, the draft Energy Strategy and Just Transition Plan aims to:

  • Maximise the economic benefits of Scotland’s transition to net zero, including ensuring a pipeline of skills for net zero jobs
  • Deliver a fair distribution of opportunities, benefits and risks, including community benefits
  • Ensure an inclusive and fair process via co-design with stakeholders and the public.

Throughout 2022, we engaged with a wide range of stakeholder, including businesses, trade unions, workers, communities and places to develop the Strategy and Plan. In the coming months, we will continue to refine the draft through further engagement during the consultation period, including with island communities.

We committed to work with communities, crofters, farmers and landowners to expand forests and woodlands on the islands, recognising wider land-use objectives.

Implementation Route Map action

  • Scottish Forestry will continue to support sustainable woodland creation on the islands through the Forestry Grant Scheme.
  • Scottish Forestry will also continue to work with a range of partners including the Woodland Trust and Point and Sandwick Trust to deliver the Croft Woodlands Project, which covers all islands, including Argyll and Arran, providing advice and support for crofters.

Work is ongoing in relation to this commitment.

Land Use Strategy

Scotland’s third Land Use Strategy was published in March 2021. The strategy sets out the Scottish Governments long-term vision and objectives for sustainable land use. This third Strategy introduces a new landscape scale approach to look at issues of land-use, presenting a more holistic view of all the ways we depend on our land in Scotland. It resets the overarching focus on to the integrated nature of land use, by showcasing the range of demands and benefits we get from our land. This approach recognises that it is only though understanding these multiple and sometimes conflicting relationships we can look to secure the fine balance that will be needed to allow our land to contribute sustainably to our multiple long term national priorities.

Regional Land Use Partnerships

In February 2021, the Scottish Government announced five Regional Land Use Partnership pilot regions:

  • Cairngorms National Park;
  • Highlands Council Region;
  • Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park;
  • North East Region (Aberdeenshire and Aberdeen City Councils); and
  • South of Scotland Region (Dumfries and Galloway and Scottish Borders Councils).

Working across their respective regions to enable natural capital-led consideration of how local land can maximise the contribution to addressing the climate and environmental crises. The five pilots aim to facilitate collaboration between local and national government, communities, land owners, land managers and wider stakeholders, whilst testing approaches to partnership governance that best suit the local situation and priorities. The outcome of this work will be the development of Regional Land Use Frameworks which are due by the end of 2023.

We committed to put the themes of meeting emissions targets and adapting to the effects of climate change at the heart of the preparation of National Planning Framework 4.

Implementation Route Map action

The draft National Planning Framework 4 (NPF4) sets out a vision for more sustainable locations and types of development in Scotland to achieve net-zero. It includes five action areas across the country and is clear that our north and west coast and islands will be at the forefront of efforts to reach net zero. It is supported by radically improved and new planning policies to help reach netzero emissions and adapt to climate change, including for flood risk, coastal vulnerability, temperature change and infrastructure resilience.

Commitment Fulfilled

Revised Draft National Planning Framework 4 (NPF4) was laid in the Scottish Parliament on 8 November 2022 for approval. Once approved by Parliament and then adopted by Scottish Ministers it will form part of the development plan for day to day decision making in the planning system. It will also inform the preparation of local development plans by planning authorities across Scotland, including the islands.

NPF4 puts climate and nature front and centre of our planning system, whilst also tackling longstanding challenges and inequalities, and is a significant step forward towards achieving a net zero Scotland.

NPF4 requires us to think differently about our places and lead the transition to stronger, greener, fairer and healthier communities across Scotland.

NPF4 is effectively a national development plan for Scotland. It sets out a long-term spatial plan including regional priorities and 18 national developments, as well as a full suite of 33 national planning policies, including:

  • a requirement that local development plans address the global climate emergency including through emissions reduction and adaptation to current and future risks from climate change.
  • Significant weight should be given to the global climate emergency in decision making on development proposals, which will be sited and designed to minimise lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions;
  • Development proposals will be sited and designed to adapt to current and future risks from climate change;
  • Retrofit measures to existing developments that reduce emissions or support climate change adaptation will be supported;
  • promoting local liveability through 20 minute neighbourhoods, applied according to the circumstances of each area; reducing the need to travel unsustainably; prioritising walking, wheeling and public or shared transport; and an infrastructure-first approach; and
  • enabling the infrastructure we will need including green energy, heat networks, facilities for a circular economy, and sustainable transport.

The spatial strategy sets out a vision for more sustainable locations and types of development in Scotland to achieve net-zero, and includes five Regional Spatial Priorities across the country. One of these, ‘North and West Coast and Islands’, covers the island communities of Shetland, Orkney, the Outer and Inner Hebrides and the coastal areas of Highland and Argyll and Bute. The priorities for the area are to work with its exceptional assets and natural resources to build a more resilient future for island and coastal communities, aiming to maximise the benefits of renewable energy while enhancing blue and green infrastructure, decarbonising transport and building resilient connections; support coastal and island communities to become carbon neutral; and seize the opportunities to grow a blue and green economy.

The following national developments will support delivery of the spatial strategy for this area:

  • Energy Innovation Development on the Islands
  • Pumped Hydro Storage
  • Strategic Renewable Electricity Regeneration and Transmission Infrastructure
  • Circular Economy Material Management Facilities
  • National Walking, Cycling and Wheeling Network
  • Digital Fibre Network

It is clear that our north and west coast and islands will be at the forefront of efforts to reach net zero.

We committed to support the adaptation of Scotland's aquaculture and fishing industry.

Implementation Route Map action

We will continue to ensure Island fishing representatives contribute to the development of annual fisheries negotiations strategy and priorities.

Work is ongoing in relation to this commitment.

Blue Economy Vision

In March 2022, we published a Blue Economy Vision for Scotland. The Vision sets out the need for transformative change to create fairer, more prosperous, nature-positive marine sectors and communities in Scotland. It defines the Scottish Government’s long-term ambition for shared stewardship of Scotland’s marine environment, to support ecosystem health, improved livelihoods, economy prosperity, social inclusion and wellbeing, by 2045. At its core, our Vision recognises that economic prosperity and wellbeing are embedded within nature, and in order to harness blue opportunities, we must transform our economy and society to thrive within the planet’s sustainable limits.

The Blue Economy Vision sets out six outcomes to achieve social, environmental and economic goals, in tandem, and represents a long-term strategy that serves as an overall framework for Scotland’s marine policies, plans and decisions. The seafood industry is a key component of the Vision, in the food security, health and nutrition outcome, for Scotland to be a global leader in providing healthy, high-quality and sustainably produced and harvested blue foods for our own population and beyond.

Most recently, in November 2022, ‘Delivering Scotland’s Blue Economy Approach’ set out the first phase of delivery towards our Vision. In it, we commit to mainstreaming a blue economy approach across government and wider, to build a sense of collective ownership of our blue economy and empower actors to support delivery and ensure the sustainability of our marine sectors and coastal communities.

Aquaculture and Recreational Fisheries

The developing Vision for Sustainable Aquaculture will support island communities through supporting the aquaculture sector to play its part in Scotland achieving net zero emissions by 2045. This will be achieved through innovation and a variety of steps including delivering emissions reductions in line with climate targets, the development of climate resilience plans, using responsibly sourced feed ingredients and generating more circular economy applications for wastes.

The impacts of climate change on fish farming is being explored through our Farmed Fish Health Framework Forum, with a focus on increasing fish survival and minimising economic loss experienced through climate change related events such as harmful algal blooms.

Fisheries Management

As part of our Fisheries Management Strategy we have committed to developing a climate change action plan for sea fisheries in partnership with stakeholders. We have completed a range of baseline research, and have agreed the formation of a climate change stakeholder group to focus activity and identify key actions for progression. We have also committed funding through Marine Fund Scotland to support innovation and development of vessel adaptation solutions.

We committed to work with a range of stakeholders to develop an action plan to improve resilience to properties at flood risk.

Implementation Route Map action

We will continue to work with stakeholders to deliver the Living with Flood action plan, which was reviewed in 2021.

Work is ongoing in relation to this commitment.

Water Environment and Resilience

We have continued to work with stakeholders to deliver the Living with Flood action plan, which was reviewed in 2021.

We committed to work with local authorities to strengthen recycling and food waste services in island communities.

Implementation Route Map action

Continued development of route map for Scotland’s waste and recycling targets to 2025 and beyond, which will include an Island Communities Impact Assessment.

Work is ongoing in relation to this commitment.

In May 2022, we consulted on a Circular Economy Bill and Waste Route Map, setting out the actions that must be taken to meet Scotland's waste targets and deliver a circular economy in Scotland. These consultations set out considerations and potential impacts for island communities, and sought further views, information or evidence relating to these impacts. The Island Communities Impact Assessment Screening for the Route Map can be found here.

The Route Map consultation contained several proposals designed to support improvements to recycling and waste services in island communities. This included a commitment to consult on the current rural exemption and food separation requirements for food waste collection, as set out in our Food Waste Reduction Action Plan (2019); and a proposal to launch a new co-design process for high quality, high performing household recycling and reuse services (including food waste recycling), working with service operators and households to design service standards. This process will help us understand opportunities for better service design, putting people at the heart of how services are designed and delivered, and improve our understanding of what works best for different contexts, including islands communities. This will lead to the development of statutory guidance for provision of high-performance household waste services in different contexts, including rural and island settings.

The analysis of the response to the Waste Route Map consultation will be published in early 2023. We will publish the final Route Map later in 2023.

We continue to support island local authorities and communities to increase the quality and quantity of recycling. We are supporting island-based local authorities to deliver ongoing projects from our landmark £70 million Recycling Improvement Fund. This includes £784,458 for Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, allowing the council to redesign kerbside collection services to increase the quality of material collected, and to extend services to areas where kerbside recycling collections are not currently available; and in North Ayrshire, £74,535 to support Household Waste Recycling Centre improvements (including Brodick, Isle of Arran).

With our partners, work continues to support all local authorities to assess opportunities and develop project proposals for future infrastructure investment through the Recycling Improvement Fund.

We committed to work closely with key stakeholders to ensure that the voices of islanders are fully heard, achieving a just transition to net-zero, and that islands benefit from the many opportunities associated with a green and sustainable economy.

Implementation Route Map action

  • We will engage on a draft Islands Energy Strategy setting out approach to decarbonisation for Scotland’s Island communities.
  • We are committed to publishing a Just Transition Plan as part of the refreshed Energy Strategy – it will involve extensive engagement with those likely to be impacted by the energy transition, including in the islands.

Work is ongoing in relation to this commitment.

To ensure an orderly and managed transition to net-zero, the Scottish Government committed, in 2021, to delivering a series of Just Transition Plans, for sectors and regions that will have an important role to play in a transformed net-zero economy. The first of these Plans – the Energy Strategy and Just Transition Plan – was published in draft in January 2023 following extensive engagement with stakeholders across Scotland, including in the islands.

Richard Lochhead MSP, Minister for Just Transition, Employment and Fair Work, met with energy industry representatives in the Shetland Islands in August 2022, when he visited the Garth Wind Farm in Yell (one of the Carbon Neutral Islands) and the Viking Energy Wind Farm. Mr Lochhead also attended the UK Government Islands Forum in Orkney in November 2022 after which he met with representatives from the European Marine Energy Centre, and undertook a visit to the tidal energy test site near Eday.

In March 2022, Scottish Government officials participated in a Just Transition themed ‘Community Conversation’ overseen by Shetland Islands Council. Further engagement will be undertaken throughout 2023 to ensure that the specific needs of islands communities are fully reflected in both the final Energy Strategy and Just Transition Plan, and in further sectoral Just Transition Plans, relating to land use and agriculture, buildings and construction, and transport, all due to be published in draft by the end of the year.



Back to top