Rural and island communities

We know that people in rural and island communities can find it difficult to access sport because of limited public transport, or fewer opportunities than urban areas.

We are currently doing research to find out more about this disadvantage so we can improve how we address it within our projects and programmes.

Islands (Scotland) Act 2018

The Islands (Scotland) Act 2018 aims to improve outcomes within island communities by creating the right environment for investment, empowerment and increasing sustainable economic growth. There are three underpinning objectives:

  • promoting islands voice
  • harnessing island resources
  • enhancing islands wellbeing.

The Act recognises that island communities face specific challenges around geographic remoteness, declining populations, transport and digital connections.

National Islands Plan 

In December 2019 Scottish Government published the National Plan for Scotland's Islands. The plan provides a framework for action to improve outcomes for island communities. It includes a strategic objective around health and social care and wellbeing. Part of this is about people in island communities being able to make choices that keep them fit and well, both physically and mentally. We contribute directly to three actions about sport and physical activity:

  • Support relevant local authorities to plan and develop sports facilities on the islands that respond to the needs of communities.
  • Promote participation in sport and physical activity by ensuring national programmes such as Active Schools and Community Sport Hubs are serving island communities, and continuing the Island Athlete Travel Award Scheme.
  • Work with Orkney Islands Council and other partners to use the hosting of the 2023 Islands Games by Orkney to strengthen sports development on the island.

Island Communities Impact Assessments 

As part of our responsibilities under the Islands Act we must undertake an island communities impact assessment (ICIA) when we develop policies or make decisions that may have a significantly different effect on an island community compared with other communities in Scotland.

ICIAs should be undertaken in partnership and consultation with the local people and island local authorities. They should include:

  • a description of the effect the decision will have that is different for the island community than other communities in Scotland.
  • an assessment of how the decision can be carried out in a way that will improve positive outcomes or mitigate negative outcomes for island communities.

In line with the requirements of the Islands Act, we will publish ICAs as they are completed.

Date published: 29 March 2023
Date updated: 5 June 2023


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