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Empowering our island communities

The Empowering Scotland's Island Communities prospectus outlines three objectives for empowering Scotland's island communities, recommended jointly by Scottish Ministers and island councils leaders:

  • promoting the voice of island communities
  • enhancing the wellbeing of island communities
  • harnessing island resources

Islands Strategic Group

We established the Islands Strategic Group to consider strategic issues affecting the inhabited island communities of Scotland and to ensure greater involvement of the relevant councils in helping to identify and design solutions to the unique needs and challenges these communities face.

Islands bill

We are bringing forward the Islands (Scotland) Bill to introduce measures to support and help meet the unique needs of Scotland's islands now and in the future. The Bill will help to create the right environment for sustainable growth and empowered communities.

The Scottish Parliament agreed the bill's general principles at Stage 1 on 8 February 2018. Find more information and reports on the Islands (Scotland) Bill on the Scottish Parliament website.

View the Islands (Scotland) Bill: equality impact assessment.


In 2013 Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, Orkney Islands Council and Shetland Islands Council launched the Our Islands - Our Future campaign, which sought to ensure that the needs of island areas were taken into account, and the particular nature of Scotland's three main island areas recognised. We formed the Island Areas Ministerial Working Group to consider how Scotland's island areas could be supported and empowered.

In June 2014 the Group published the Empowering Scotland's Island Communities prospectus, which set out proposals for increased autonomy for island communities. In this we recognised that, while all three islands councils are in a unique position, Scotland has 93 inhabited islands in total whose communities could all benefit from greater empowerment.

From 29 September to 23 December 2015 we consulted on provisions for a future islands bill. The analysis of responses to the islands bill consultation was published in March 2016, along with an Empowering Scotland's Island Communities: progress update which outlined the work that we, our agencies and the island councils are doing to help support and sustain Scotland's island communities.

In August 2016 we established the Islands Strategic Group to build on the work of the previous Island Areas Ministerial Working Group and the Empowering Scotland's Island Communities prospectus.