How is the SNP supporting Scotland’s island communities?
The SNP Scottish Government has worked with the ‘Our Islands, Our Future’ campaign and the Islands Strategic Group to develop proposals that meet the unique needs of Scotland’s islands. This work has led to the introduction of an Islands Bill to empower our island communities and to support economic growth. The measures in the Bill include:
a requirement that public bodies assess the impact new laws or policies have on Scotland’s islands;
the creation of a National Islands Plan;
protection for the Na h-Eileanan an lar Scottish Parliament constituency in law;
greater flexibility around Councillor numbers within island communities; and
the extension of powers to island councils on marine licensing.
At Westminster we will also campaign for a UK government funding commitment for a Deal for the Islands of Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles.
We are already supporting transport links to our islands. Road Equivalent Tariff has been rolled out to all ferry routes in the Clyde and Hebrides network, delivering significantly reduced ferry fares. Fares on Northern Isles ferry services have been frozen for 2017, with work to ultimately cut ticket prices continuing. And residents of Caithness and north-west Sutherland, Colonsay, Islay, Jura, Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles are also eligible for a 50 per cent discount on air fares.
To support our vital food and drink sectors, we plan to invest £5 million in a fund to promote our island and regional produce.
To support the building on new affordable housing in rural communities, we are investing £5 million in an Islands Housing Fund.
And we will also use new powers to ensure our island communities are able to control and determine how to invest 100 per cent of locally raised Crown Estate revenues.