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Community / Island impact assessments now required

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PUBLIC bodies will now have to consider the specific needs of islands when developing policies and strategies after regulations around impact assessments came into force today (Wednesday).

The requirement around island communities impact assessments are part of the Scottish Government’s islands act, which was made law in 2018.

Shetland MSP Beatrice Wishart said while it is “good news”, communities have been waiting over two years.

“Liberal Democrats secured an amendment to the bill to allow requests to be made to review policies that are already in place and having a significant impact on island communities,” she said.

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

“Time will tell on how well the spirit of these important provisions are reflected in reality.”

The government has also issued guidance and help for organisations to compile island communities impact assessments.

Scottish islands minister Paul Wheelhouse said: “These regulations mark a key milestone in delivery of our ground breaking Islands Act and in implementing the core objectives in the National Islands Plan.

“They will ensure that key public bodies to consider the specific needs and interests of islands communities when developing and updating policies, strategies and services. They will also ensure that island communities have greater access to decision making.

“This suite of new measures will help support sustainable, vibrant and strong island communities. We’ve also published guidance today that will help public bodies comply with their new duties. We will continue to work closely with island communities and partners to ensure the success of these new provisions.”