Foreword from our Minister
As the Minister responsible for Scotland’s islands, I have had the privilege of overseeing the development of Scotland’s first National Islands Plan. This Plan, the production of which marks a historic milestone, has been created with the input of many of our islanders and I am extremely grateful to you all for your contributions and ideas.
Our islands are profoundly important – not just to Scotland, but to the whole world and their contribution is valued and acknowledged through the introduction in 2018 of the Islands (Scotland) Act and the development of this Plan. The extraordinary natural diversity and cultural importance of our islands deserve to be promoted and protected, and it is my hope that this Plan will help us to do just that.
From April to July 2019, we consulted widely on what was important to islanders and through that process, we have identified a range of issues that we need to address in order to achieve our objective of improving life on our islands. The consultation process highlighted where we need to step up our efforts and focus our energies over the next five years. Thank you to everyone who took part. I hope that you can see your views and goals incorporated here in the Plan.
The Plan sets out 13 practical, common sense Strategic Objectives in relation to housing, population levels, sustainable economic development, transport and a host of other areas which are critical to improving the quality of life for our island communities. Clearly, climate change is one of the most pressing of those issues. Islanders are extremely resilient and we all have an obligation to respond to the climate emergency. I believe that Scotland can be a catalyst for change across all corners of the world – and our islands are at the very forefront of that change.
I, along with my colleagues across government, welcome this opportunity to do all that we can to continue to support our islands. We are committed to protecting our 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 as we implement this Plan. With the assistance and involvement of island leaders and all other stakeholders, I truly believe that we have an opportunity to set new standards in island policy.
Paul Wheelhouse MSP
Minister for Energy, Connectivity and the Islands