National Islands Plan through a COVID Lens: survey results

Summary of key findings after the six main local authorities with islands were invited to consider the impact of the (COVID-19) pandemic on the delivery of National Island Plan commitments and how these should be prioritised going forward.

Additional Comments

Question six in the survey provided an opportunity for any other comments, questions or feedback. Summary responses are provided below and full responses are available at Annex A.

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar

  • The National Islands Plan Implementation Routemap, and island-proofing through the Island Communities Impact Assessments, are viewed by the Comhairle as an important part of the COVID-19 recovery process and should be progressed as a matter of urgency.

North Ayrshire Council

  • Lack of capacity in the ferry fleet is the biggest constraint on preventing the economy recovering on islands as it will on the mainland.
  • In the case of Cumbrae, the educational needs of primary school children on the island who need teaching staff to be able to travel in and the outgoing travel requirements for pupils attending the Largs Campus, is extremely challenging given the reduced ferry and bus capacity.
  • It is requested that safely maximising capacity and extending the business support in place will recognise that islands may not be able to have a normal tourism season until 2021.
  • There exists a data deficiency related to our islands and whilst some that are single unitary authorities are able to produce good info, others such as Arran are struggling, which is challenging when measuring the impact of what is happening, consequences, and supporting an evidence based approach to decision making.
  • We have uncovered a new level of social and health need as a result of the community hubs set up to respond to the pandemic. There is much goodwill and volunteer support on both islands to address this, but this has not been evidenced in data before, which is troubling and needs addressed, along with the needs.
  • We would like to see an Island fund that could support work around climate change, community wealth building and community empowerment.

Shetland Islands Council

  • It is understood that the Islands Team is seeking to find a way to prioritise the National Islands Plan in light of COVID.
  • As the Plan has been developed, quite rightly, recognising the interlinked nature of islands life and how policy interventions naturally affect other areas, it is very difficult to effectively prioritise.
  • This Council supported the creation of the Plan as we agreed with the Minister in seeing it as an historic milestone. We therefore see all of the 13 Strategic Objectives as being important to our islands' future sustainability and growth and wish to record our desire to see everything outlined in the published Plan resourced and delivered in full.
  • It is acknowledged that resource pressure in responding and planning recovery will affect (Scottish) Government ability to deliver all of the Plan in the short term.
  • However, as the Plan references many existing Scottish Government policies and strategies, it may be the case that many of the Commitments for Strategic Objectives can be delivered as part of that ongoing work.
  • As an example, the Plan contains an aim under the Sustainable Economic Development Objective which states: "During the preparation of the 2020 Infrastructure Investment Plan, consider the implications of the National Islands Plan on future infrastructure requirements".
  • It is understood the Infrastructure Commission will publish its second report this summer and it will be interesting to note if islands' infrastructure requirements are included within that.



Back to top