Introduction to the Islands (Scotland) Act 2018
1. The Islands (Scotland) Act 2018 provides for a new duty on the Scottish Ministers and other relevant public bodies that they must have regard to island communities in exercising their functions and in the development of legislation.
2. Section 13 of the 2018 Act obliges the Scottish Ministers to prepare an islands communities impact assessment (ICIA) in relation to legislation which, in their opinion, is likely to have an effect on an island community which is significantly different from its effect on other communities in Scotland.
3. Section 13 of the 2018 Act states that an ICIA must:
a. Describe the likely significantly different effect of the legislation;
b. Assess the extent to which the Scottish Ministers consider that the legislation can be developed in such a manner as to improve or mitigate, for island communities, the outcomes resulting from the legislation; and
c. Set out the financial implications of steps taken under this subsection to mitigate, for island communities, the outcomes resulting from the legislation.
4. The Scottish Government's island communities impact assessments guidance, which is currently available in draft format, sets out four preliminary stages that must be undertaken prior to preparing an ICIA. These are:
a. Developing a clear understanding of the objectives and intended outcomes of the policy, strategy or service including any island needs or impacts
b. Gathering data, identifying evidence gaps and identifying stakeholders
c. Consulting with appropriate stakeholders
d. Assessing whether there are any issues resulting from the proposed policy that are significantly different from those that would be experienced on the mainland, or on other islands
5. If any significantly different impacts are identified, an ICIA will be required.