Island communities impact assessments: guidance - consultation
Our islands face particular challenges around distance, geography, connectivity and demography, so it is important that policy makers consider these properly. The consultation on the guidance will help ensure that islands receive fair treatment tailored to their unique circumstances.
This guidance provides the tools to help you complete an Island Communities Impact Assessment (ICIA) as required under the Islands (Scotland) Act 2018. Our islands face particular challenges around distance, geography, connectivity and demography, so it is important that policy makers consider these properly. It is also important that you make sure islands receive fair and equitable treatment and that your policy, strategy or service outcomes are tailored to their unique circumstances.
This guide will tell you how to assess and take into account the impacts your policies, strategies or services might have on island communities in Scotland. It sets out a seven step process for you to follow and provides you with a template at Annex B that you can use to carry out your assessment.
We hope that we have provided you with a clear and transparent process that will help you to fully document your evidence and reasons for your decisions. Should you feel that you require support in understanding the detail in this document , we can provide you with mentoring or further advice. Please make contact at the earliest opportunity (probably before you begin your assessment). We can also arrange to deliver a seminar to your team if that would be helpful.
From time to time we will review this document to ensure that it remains fit for purpose. As such, we welcome any comments you may have on it. You can contact us at email@example.com
The Islands (Scotland) Act 2018
The Islands (Scotland) Act was passed by the Scottish Parliament in 2018 and is only one of a handful of place-based pieces of legislation to focus specifically on islands in the world. The measures it contains, like the Island Communities Impact Assessment, are designed to meaningfully improve outcomes for island communities. The provisions in Sections 7 to 14 of the Act have only recently been brought into force.
Before carrying out your ICIA, you might find it helpful to look specifically at the two main duties under Sections 7 and 8 of the Act.
- Section 7 states that a Relevant Authorities must have regard to island communities in carrying out its functions.
- Section 8 states that Relevant Authorities must prepare an ICIA in relation to a policy, strategy, or service, which, in the authority’s opinion, is likely to have an effect on an island community which is significantly different from its effect on other communities (including other island communities) in the area in which the authority exercises its functions.
The Act lists those Relevant Authorities who are required to carry out an ICIA under Sections 7 and 8. This list can also be seen at Annex A of this guide. Each Relevant Authority is responsible for ensuring it fulfils its duties under the Act.
Section 13 of the Act states that the Scottish Ministers must prepare an 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 (including other island communities) in Scotland. So, this guidance is also designed for use by the Scottish Ministers when developing policies, strategies and services to be implemented by prospective legislation.
You can see all of the relevant provisions here, but If you have any questions about any of this, or if you would like a hard copy of the Act, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will be happy to help.
The National Islands Plan
In December 2019, Scottish Ministers published the first ever National Islands Plan. which was created with the input of many islanders and those with a strong interest in Scotland’s islands. 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.
Fairness is a key value that underpins the National Islands Plan and reflects the Scottish Government’s commitment to equality and human rights. The Plan recognises that every member of society has a right to live with dignity and to enjoy high quality public services wherever they live. This commitment is also an explicit National Outcome within Scotland’s National Performance Framework.
So, when you are developing your policy, strategy or service, it is important that you consider the National Islands Plan, its commitment to fairness and its other strategic objectives. You can see the Plan here or alternatively, please email us at email@example.com if you would like a hard copy. The Plan is also available in Gaelic.
What is an Island Community?
The Islands (Scotland) Act 2018 defines an island community as a community of two or more people, all of whom live permanently on the island with a common interest in the identity of that island. This includes uninhabited islands whose natural environment and ecosystems contribute to the natural or cultural heritage or economy of an inhabited island. To make sure that that you take into account the uniqueness of each of our island communities, you should be as inclusive as possible – ideally through consultation with island communities. When you are developing your policy, service or strategy you should try to listen very carefully to the voices of islanders and to provide them with feedback throughout the process.
Why is an ICIA important?
Making sure that your ICIA is done well is important because island communities can face many challenges when compared with mainland and urban areas. For example, on an island it can be more difficult to access public services or high quality employment. Also, the consequences of geography can create particular problems for island communities. These might include for example, a higher general cost of living, more expensive and more complex transport options, higher fuel or construction costs as well as environmental factors and infrastructure issues such as poor digital connectivity.
Moreover, island rurality can exacerbate inequality already experienced on account of age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation. These characteristics are known as “protected characteristics” as defined in the Equality Act 2010. Issues which impact on all islanders to some extent, such as those relating to access to transport or adequate housing for example, may be acutely felt by some groups more than others and require targeted measures in order to redress the inequality experienced.
Island Communities Impact Assessments are also designed to cover existing policies, strategies and services - not just new ones.
Done well, your ICIA will:
- Make sure that you keep islands and their communities in mind throughout the development, implementation and delivery of your policy, strategy or service.
- Help us to support strong, resilient and vibrant island communities.
- Help us to meet the four principles of fairness, integration, environmental protection (green) and inclusiveness that underpin our work to support island communities.
- Promote the voice of island communities.
- Recognise that every person in Scotland has a right to live with dignity and to enjoy high quality public services wherever they live.
We know that you will need to strike a balance to ensure your approach to the process is not unduly burdensome, but it is critical that it is robust and meaningful. Crucially, your ICIA should not be a “tick box” exercise. It’s important to remember that any decisions you make should be clearly set-out and well documented. This will help you in the event of a review of a decision under Section 9 of the Act.
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