Island Communities Impact Assessments
30. While the aim of the National Islands Plan is to shape government policy in a way that will improve outcomes for island communities, Island Communities Impact Assessments serve a more immediate role. By undertaking an Island Communities Impact Assessment, Scottish Government, local authorities and relevant authorities will “island proof” legislation, policy, strategies and services where those are considered likely to have an effect on an island community which is significantly different from its effect on other communities. In those cases, Island Communities Impact Assessments will ensure that the obligation according to which “[A] relevant authority must have regard to island communities in carrying out its functions” is met. And, it will be through Island Communities Impact Assessments that the interests of island communities are formally taken into account when decisions are made.
31. The Islands (Scotland) Act clarifies that an Island Communities Impact Assessment will be carried out by a relevant authority when a policy, strategy or service “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.”
32. Guidance on how an Island Communities Impact Assessment should be carried out is not present in the Islands (Scotland) Act. Rather, the Act enables Ministers to develop guidance about the duty to have regard to island communities, of which the Island Communities Impact Assessment forms part. The Scottish Ministers are also required to develop regulations “about reviews of decisions of relevant authorities relating to island communities impact assessments.”
33. The consultation laid out in this document refers to both tasks. The Act requires Ministers to consult with local authorities, as well as representatives of island communities and others before issuing guidance about this duty, and in preparation of the National Islands Plan. The Scottish Government is eager to engage with island communities and as wide a range of interests as possible in the preparation of both the guidance and the Plan. The Scottish Government believes that island communities need to have an opportunity to share their views on the National Islands Plan and on the development of Island Communities Impact Assessments. This consultation gives them this opportunity.