National Islands Plan review: consultation analysis

The report sets out the main findings of the public consultation carried out to inform a review of the National Islands Plan 2019.

2 Description of the responses and respondents

2.1 This chapter provides information about the responses and the respondents.

Number of responses received, and number included in the analysis

2.2 The consultation received 168 responses. Of these, the vast majority (158) were submitted through Citizen Space, the Scottish Government’s online consultation platform; the remaining 10 responses were sent by email.

2.3 One respondent submitted two different responses. These two responses were combined to form a single amalgamated response – and this respondent has been counted only once in the analysis. Where the respondent’s answers to closed questions differed between the two submissions, their answers in the latter submission were retained for the analysis. All the respondent’s comments, from both responses, are included in the analysis.

2.4 This amalgamation process resulted in the removal of one response, and thus the analysis was based on 167 responses.

Description of the respondents

2.5 Responses were submitted by 39 organisations and 128 individuals (see Table 2.1).

Table 2.1: Number and percentage of respondents
Respondent type n %
Organisations 39 23%
Individuals 128 77%
Total 167 100%

2.6 There were three main groups of organisational respondents (see Table 2.2)

  • Local authorities and other public bodies comprised the largest group of organisational respondents (16 out of 39, or 41%). This group included all six island authorities as well as a range of public bodies with national remits.
  • Community groups, organisations and trusts comprised 23% of organisational respondents (9 out of 39). This group included community councils, community trusts, local steering groups and business support groups.
  • Third sector organisations, charities and membership bodies comprised 23% of organisations (9 out of 39). This group included a wide range of different organisation types. Some had a charitable purpose while others were membership bodies or forums. Some of these groups had a specific focus on the islands whereas others had a wider national remit.

2.7 A small group of five organisations that did not fit into any of the other three categories comprised the final 13% of organisational responses (referred to as ‘other organisation types’). A complete list of organisational respondents is shown in Annex 1.

Table 2.2: Breakdown of organisational responses, by type
Organisation type n %
Local authorities and other public bodies 16 41%
Community groups, organisations, and trusts 9 23%
Third sector organisations, charities, and membership bodies 9 23%
Other organisation types* 5 13%
Total organisations 39 100%

* Includes a hospitality and tourism organisation, higher education institutions, a trade union and a National Health Service Royal College.

Connection to Scotland’s islands

2.8 Respondents were asked to indicate their connection to Scotland’s islands – whether they (i) were a permanent island resident, (ii) were a part-time island resident, (iii) had previously lived on an island, (iv) commuted to an island for work, or (v) had some other type of connection to Scotland’s islands. The wording of this question suggests that it was primarily aimed at individual respondents. However, the question was also answered by most organisations, who may have interpreted it in different ways.

2.9 As Table 2.3 shows, 82% of respondents said they were permanent island residents. The vast majority of individual respondents (92%) were permanent island residents, whereas less than half of the organisations that answered the question (14 out of 33) selected this option. Organisations (including some island local authorities) were more likely to categorise themselves as having an ‘other’ connection to the islands, either because they had a wider national role / remit, a remit that included mainland communities (as well as island communities), or because their membership was drawn from across Scotland.

2.10 Note that none the respondents indicated that they commute to an island for work, and, therefore, this option is not shown in the table below.

Table 2.3: Respondents’ connection to Scottish islands, by respondent type
Respondent type Organisations Individuals Total
Connection to islands n % n % n %
Permanent island resident 14 42% 115 92% 129 82%
Part-time island resident 0 0% 5 4% 5 3%
Previously lived on an island 0 0% 1 1% 1 1%
Other (please detail below) 19 58% 4 3% 23 15%
Total 33 100% 125 100% 158 100%

Percentages may not total 100% due to rounding.

None of the respondents selected ‘commute to an island for work’.

Response rates for individual questions

2.11 Response rates for individual questions varied, depending on whether the question was closed or open, and on whether the respondent was an organisation or individual.

2.12 In general, response rates for closed questions were higher, ranging from 83% at the closed parts of Question 5 (which asked about progress towards the National Island Plan’s strategic objectives) to 93% at Question 1 (which asked respondents how much they know about the current plan). By contrast, response rates for open questions ranged from 60% at the open part of Question 7 (which asked for views on the number of commitments in the current National Islands Plan) to 85% at the open part of Question 9 (which asked what could have worked better in the current National Islands Plan).

2.13 Response rates were higher for individual respondents compared to organisational respondents. The vast majority of individuals answered all closed questions, with response rates for individual questions ranging from 90% to 98% among this group. In most cases, more than two-thirds of individuals also answered each open question. The exceptions were in relation to:

  • The open part of Question 7 (which asked for views on the number of commitments in the current plan) – 55% of individuals commented at this question
  • The open part of Question 6 (which asked for views on the number of strategic objectives in the current plan) – 63% of individuals commented at this question.
  • 2.14 Organisations had lower response rates than individuals for many of the closed questions – and particularly:
  • Question 2 (which asked whether the current National Island Plan had affected your life in any way) – 59% of organisations answered this closed question
  • Question 5 (which asked about the progress made by the current plan towards achieving its strategic objectives) – the proportion of organisations answering each of the 13 parts of this question ranged from 46% to 54%.

2.15 In general, organisational respondents were less likely to answer the questions at the beginning of the consultation (i.e. Questions 1–5) and more likely to answer the questions at the end of the consultation (i.e. Questions 6–11). Response rates for organisations in relation to the latter questions (both the closed and open parts) ranged from 69% for the open part of Question 6 (which asked about the number of strategic objectives) to 95% for the open part of Question 11 (which asked what respondents would like to see in any future or revised National Islands Plan).

2.16 See Annex 2 for full details of the question response rates.

Workshop participants

2.17 As noted in Chapter 1, the Scottish Government carried out a series of consultation workshops which provided an opportunity to explore the topics of governance, awareness and focus in relation to the current and any possible future National Islands Plan.

2.18 Altogether, 231 individuals participated in 16 workshops (13 in-person and 3 online).

2.19 Table 2.4 provides an overview of the locations of the 13 in-person workshops and the number of participants at each one. Note that one of the in-person workshops involved attendees at the Scottish Rural and Islands Parliament meeting held in Fort William in November 2023. The table also includes information about the geographical locations of participants in the online workshops.

Table 2.4: Details of workshops and number of participants
Type of workshop n
In-person, area-based workshops (local authority – island)
1 Argyll and Bute – Colonsay 11
2 Argyll and Bute – Mull 15
3 Highland – Eigg 20
4 Highland – Isle of Skye 11
5 North Ayrshire – Arran 21
6 North Ayrshire – Cumbrae 16
7 Orkney – Orkney Mainland 19
8 Orkney – Westray 3
9 Shetland – Shetland Mainland 4
10 Shetland – Bressay 5
11 Western Isles – Grimsay 11
12 Western Isles – Isle of Lewis 21
Total, in-person area-based participants 157
In-person, Scottish Rural and Island Parliament workshop
13 Held in Fort William, as a Scottish Rural and Island Parliament workshop 28
Total, SRIP participants 28
Online workshops
14 Included participants from Coll, Skye, Iona, Lewis, Orkney, Shetland, Arran, Islay 15
15 Included participants from Cumbrae, Islay, Orkney, Skye, Tiree, Harris, Barra and Lewis 12
16 Included participants from Islay, Bressay, Arran, Barra, Orkney, Shetland, Jura, Stornoway, Uig, Skye 19
Total, online participants 46
Total participants, in-person and online 231



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