Politics / Wishart ‘disappointed’ by timeline for island impact assessments

Shetland MSP Beatrice Wishart. Photo: Shetland News

A REQUIREMENT for an impact assessment to be carried out on new policies and strategies which could affect island communities is only set to be enacted in late December – over two years after the legislation came into force.

Shetland MSP Beatrice Wishart said “while it’s understandable that resources have been prioritised for the Covid-19 response, it’s disappointing that these important parts of the Islands Act have not yet come into force”.

The Scottish Government’s Islands Act came into force back in 2018 and it included provision of island community impact assessments.

These assessments should assess the extent to which policies, strategies or services can be “developed or delivered in such a manner as to improve or mitigate, for island communities, the outcomes resulting from it”.

The law also allows local authorities to request a retrospective islands impact assessment on existing legislation or national strategies.

In a parliamentary question Wishart recently asked when the sections on impact assessments would come into force.


Islands minister Paul Wheelhouse said that activity on this matter had been put on hold due to the response to Covid-19.

However, the work was “re-prioritised” in late May.

Wheelhouse said a section of the act around reviews of decisions relating to impact assessments needs to be in place first, saying this is scheduled to come into force on 23 December.

“This date does remain subject to any further urgent legislative work that may be required as a result of Covid-19 and EU exit,” he added.

In response, Wishart said that “work on the regulations must remain a government priority so they come into force by the end of the year”.

“Island communities have been waiting over two years since the Islands Bill was passed for island community impact assessment to be required for any planned policy that will have a significant impact on the community,” she said.

Become a supporter of Shetland News


“More so, the opportunity to request a retrospective communities impact assessment into policies that are already in place.

“When done right, and when island views are properly taken into account, impact assessments must have the potential to stop or reverse damaging plans.”

The Lib Dem MSP previously said the parking charge imposed at Sumburgh Airport by government-owned HIAL was one decision which could be challenged through a retrospective islands impact assessment.

Become a supporter of Shetland News

Shetland News is asking its many readers to consider start paying for their dose of the latest local news delivered straight to their PC, tablet or mobile phone.

Journalism comes at a price and because that price is not being paid in today’s rapidly changing media world, most publishers - national and local - struggle financially despite very healthy audience figures.

Most online publishers have started charging for access to their websites, others have chosen a different route. Shetland News currently has  over 600 supporters  who are all making small voluntary financial contributions. All funds go towards covering our cost and improving the service further.

Your contribution will ensure Shetland News can: -

  • Bring you the headlines as they happen;
  • Stay editorially independent;
  • Give a voice to the community;
  • Grow site traffic further;
  • Research and publish more in-depth news, including more Shetland Lives features.

If you appreciate what we do and feel strongly about impartial local journalism, then please become a supporter of Shetland News by either making a single payment or monthly subscription.

Support us from as little as £3 per month – it only takes a minute to sign up. Thank you.



Subscribe to a selection of different newsletters from Shetland News, varying from breaking news delivered on the minute, to a weekly round-up of the opinion posts. All delivered straight to your inbox.

Daily Briefing Newsletter Weekly Highlights Newsletter Opinion Newsletter Life in Shetland Newsletter

JavaScript Required

We're sorry, but Shetland News isn't fully functional without JavaScript enabled.
Head over to the help page for instructions on how to enable JavaScript on your browser.

Your Privacy

We use cookies on our site to improve your experience.
By using our service, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Cookie Policy.

Browser is out-of-date

Shetland News isn't fully functional with this version of .
Head over to the help page for instructions on updating your browser for more security, improved speed and the best overall experience on this site.

Interested in Notifications?

Get notifications from Shetland News for important and breaking news.
You can unsubscribe at any time.

Become a supporter of Shetland News

We're committed to ensuring everyone has equitable access to impartial, open and quality local journalism that benefits all residents.

By supporting Shetland News, you play a vital role in ensuring we remain a pivotal resource in supporting the community.

Support us from as little as £3 per month – it only takes a minute to sign up. Thank you.