The views of local people and organisations on the future of Scotland’s islands will come into focus when members of the Scottish Parliament’s Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee visit Lewis and Harris on October 19th and 20th.
The Committee will examine the potential impact of the Scottish Government’s Islands (Scotland) Bill, and a key question will be how to help ensure the islands have a thriving, sustainable economic future.
While the Committee members are on Lewis they will seek views on the issues which islanders think should be addressed through the proposed Islands Plan, such as transport, tourism and rural economy. They will have a range of fact-finding meetings with organisations including Carloway Estates Trust, Outer Hebrides Tourism, Western Isles Fishermen’s Association and CalMac.
On Harris, the Committee members will meet with community groups and local volunteers to hear their views.
Convener of the Committee, Edward Mountain MSP commented:
“During the Committee’s visit we hope to hear from local people with direct experience of living and working on Lewis and Harris, on the issues that matter to them.”
The Convener continued:
“The Scottish Government’s bill covers significant issues, such as the requirement to make sure new policies and legislation don’t disadvantage the islands, and marine licensing for coastal waters. The Committee’s role is to ensure that the bill contains the right measures to deliver on these objectives.
“In the coming weeks, as well as taking evidence at the Scottish Parliament, we hope to continue to hear opinions from Scotland’s island areas. This is an opportunity to help shape the future of Scotland’s islands, and it’s vital the valuable knowledge and experience of local people living on Lewis and Harris are heard.”
The Committee will produce a report on the Scottish Government’s Islands Bill at Stage 1 after it has concluded its evidence taking this autumn.
The Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee scrutinises policy proposals relating to rural affairs, transport and digital connectivity. It comes to a view after taking comprehensive evidence from, and engaging with, a wide range of stakeholders ‘on the frontline’ and applies authoritative, expert, effective and influential scrutiny to policy.