Foreword from Scotland’s Islands Minister
As Islands Minister, I am proud to introduce Scotland’s first ever National Islands Plan. The production of this Plan marks an historic milestone, has been created with the input of many islanders and others with a strong interest in Scotland’s islands and I am extremely grateful to you all for your contributions and ideas.
The Plan sets out 13 Strategic Objectives which are practical, common sense, but will also be critical over the next five years to improving the quality of life for island communities. The Islands (Scotland) Act which was passed by the Scottish Parliament in 2018 sets out the purpose of the National Islands Plan. It sets out the main objectives and strategy of the Scottish Government in relation to improving outcomes for island communities. The Act sets out some of the key areas to achieve this – by increasing population levels; improving and promoting sustainable economic development, environmental wellbeing, health and wellbeing, and community empowerment; improving transport services and digital connectivity; reducing fuel poverty; and enhancing biosecurity.
These statutory provisions have been augmented with priorities identified by islanders themselves. From April to July 2019, we consulted widely on what was important to islanders and island communities. That consultation process highlighted where we need to step up our collective efforts and focus our energies to address the challenges and realise the aspirations of everyone who lives on Scotland’s islands.
Climate change emerged as one of the most pressing of those issues. Islanders are extremely resilient and innovative and are determined to play their part and indeed, want to be at the very forefront of, responding effectively to the climate emergency.
All Scottish Ministers have a responsibility and duty to implement and deliver on the strategic objectives set out in this Plan. We welcome the opportunity to do so. We are committed to supporting and protecting Scotland’s islands and to proudly promoting them as wonderful places to live, to visit, to work and to study. We will continue to work closely with communities and the public agencies which support and serve those communities in the implementation of this Plan and its actions.
Our islands are profoundly important – not just to Scotland, but to the whole world. They contribute hugely to our culture, heritage, environment, identity, landscape, economy and society. We want them to thrive and this first National Islands Plan provides the ambition and the tools to do so.
Paul Wheelhouse MSP
Minister for Energy, Connectivity and the Islands