Progress made on deal for Scottish islands

Lerwick in Shetland was the venue for the meeting

The Scottish Government said on Monday it made progress in talks with the Island Councils on proposals for a deal which aims to enhance local democracy and achieve full economic potential for Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles.

The meeting in Lerwick on Monday was the final one in the current round before the Scottish elections.

“We have come a long way in a few years, and fully expect to see an Islands Bill come forward through the new parliament later this year which will strengthen our communities and put them at the forefront of Scottish life for the future,” said Cllr Gary Robinson, leader of Shetland Islands Council, speaking on behalf of the Our Islands Our Future (OIOF) campaign.

“OIOF has worked steadily with both governments over the past two and a half years and has made good progress over that time on a wide range of issues …”

The meeting was chaired by Derek Mackay, minister for transport and islands, with Marco Biagi, minister for local government and community empowerment, also attending for the Scottish Government.

The group agreed that it would be important to “have engagement from the UK Government” as proposals develop.

There were also positive discussions “on the potential for increasing local accountability for decisions on Crown Estate assets in the three council areas, ahead of a Scottish Bill on the future management framework for Crown Estate assets in Scotland …”

Scottish Ministers’ current priority is “to secure the devolution of management and revenue of the Crown Estate so that Scotland and its communities can benefit from the Scottish assets.”

Island and coastal councils will receive the net income from Crown Estate marine assets out to 12 nautical miles after further powers are devolved.

“The Scottish Government is committed to looking at devolving more autonomy to our islands and decentralise decision making to those who live and work in these unique parts of Scotland,” said Mackay.

“These meetings provide the opportunity to discuss the best way forward and I am grateful to each of the island councils for their the islands collaborative approach in identifying how best to deliver a vision for inclusive economic growth for their areas.”