Scottish Islands Typology: overview 2024

This report outlines the Scottish Islands Typology (2024). It classifies Scotland’s islands into ten categories based on combinations of population, access to local amenities, and access to mainland Scotland. It offers an alternative way to compare the differences and similarities between islands.

2 Purpose of the typology

This chapter sets out the purpose of the Scottish Government Scottish Islands Typology (2024), highlighting that it uses population, local services and amenities, and the access to mainland Scotland provided by ferries or fixed link connections to identify similarities and differences between islands to help researchers and policy makers understand the diversity of Scotland's islands.

The Scottish Government Scottish Islands Typology is intended to complement existing data available for the Scottish islands including the Scottish Island Regions (2023) geography and the Scottish Islands Data Dashboard. It provides a way of classifying islands which does not rely on geographical location or local authority areas. Instead, it is based on some of the key factors which affect daily life in the islands: population, access to amenities and services in each island, and ferry connections. This allows us to compare islands to each other to understand the differences between islands located in close proximity to each other, and the links between islands which are geographically distant. The resulting island types provide additional context for researchers and policy makers who may wish to use them in order to better understand factors which affect island life.

In particular the Scottish Government Scottish Islands Typology (2024) is intended to provide a resource for Scottish Government policy teams carrying out Island Communities Impact Assessments (ICIAs) as part of policy development. It can also assist in understanding how best to target support in specific islands.

The typology supports these areas of work by identifying some of the key differences and similarities between Scotland’s islands which might affect approaches to working with individual communities. It should be noted that there is no suggestion that separate ICIAs should be carried out for each island type identified, however the typology does provide a potential framework which might allow policy makers to evaluate whether any assessment has taken into account the differences between islands in terms of population, local amenities, and ferry connections.



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