‘At no time have the majority of people living in Orkney or Shetland expressed a wish to be independent from Scotland’

From saoralba07

Despite misleading headlines in The Herald and Scotsman, at no time have the majority of people living in Orkney or Shetland expressed a wish to be independent from Scotland and no requests have been submitted to the Scottish government for additional powers.  Last month, the Scottish government announced that the Hebrides, Orkney and Shetland would benefit from a £50m growth deal.

Orkney and Shetland have been part of Scotland for twice as long as Scotland has been ruled by Westminster and of course they should have as much local autonomy that is possible.

Unionist interest in self-determination for small islands is directly related to power and money.  Westminster wasn’t terribly interested in the right to self-determination of the people of the Chagos Islands who were cleared out their homes when the UK handed over the islands to the USA for a naval base but very interested in The Falklands offshore 1.7 billion barrels of crude oil.

The Continental Shelf Act 1964 and the Continental Shelf (Jurisdiction) Order 1968 defines the UK North Sea maritime area to the north of latitude 55 degrees north as being under the jurisdiction of Scots law meaning that 94% of the UK’s oil resources are under Scottish jurisdiction.  In addition, section 126 of the Scotland Act 1998 defines Scottish waters as the internal waters and territorial sea of the United Kingdom as are adjacent to Scotland.

However, if Shetland decided to breakaway, under International law and United Nations convention (UNCLOS) regarding small islands / enclaves they would only be entitled to six miles of territorial waters meaning no oil and not much fish.

What if, for example, Whalsay and Foula declared independence or elected to stick with Scotland?  Unionists should note that the Isle of Man and Channel Islands only have rights up to six miles offshore.

Even under the hypothetical circumstance that this occurred, Westminster wouldn’t be able to retain control of the oil fields anyway.  These matters are regulated by the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, to which the UK is a signatory.  International law specifies that a state controls the continental shelf and associated mineral and fishing rights up to 200 nautical miles (230 miles or 370 km) off its shores.  When another state possesses an island within the continental shelf of this state, special rules apply.

This matter was discussed in detail in a legal paper published by the European Journal of International Law:  Prospective Anglo-Scottish Maritime Boundary Revisited

Most of the rights to the continental shelf would remain Scottish, Map 2 on page 29 of the legal paper shows the most likely sea boundaries.  Westminster would be entitled only to a small zone around the islands, and the waters between Orkney and Shetland.  This area contains no oil fields.  If Shetland and Orkney were to remain under Westminster’s control, Shetland would no longer have an oil fund.

By electing to remain part of the UK the northern islanders would face longer trips to mainland hospitals in Newcastle, student tuition fees and numerous other practical disadvantages. In reality, there is more chance of a neglected Cumbria or Northumberland joining an Independent Scotland than Orkney or Shetland leaving.

All this was debated during the 2014 independence campaign as part of Project Fear’s attempts to side track Yes supporters from putting forward a positive vision for Scotland.

Now pro UK Westminster dependency supporters have no positive case left for the Union.

19 thoughts on “‘At no time have the majority of people living in Orkney or Shetland expressed a wish to be independent from Scotland’”

  1. But surely you can no longer quote International law as regards the UK or rUK?
    Bojo claims he can legislate in his sovereign parliament on any domestic matter and it takes precedence.
    Just saying 🙂

    Liked by 4 people





  3. Thank you for this. Very intereseting indeed. So I guess the question is, why does the BritNat gov/state wish to annex the Scottish Islands? It is a divide and rule tactic, and also a distraction from the really valuable resources and revenues that Scotland and the Islands would benefit from if independent of Westminster rule.

    People living in the Scottish Islands I am sure are not so taken in by the English government lies, that they would believe for one moment that the EngGov in London would stand up for them, protect their economy, jobs, and livelihoods etc. The opposite would be true. The council in the Shetland Isle have discussed and voted for a wee further discussion on separating from mainland Scotland, but, have they consulted the people at all? It’s not the council who will decide, it’s for the people to make that decision based on facts and relevant info. It’s a dead duck before the first hurdle.

    Let’s see what the BritNats come up with next. Don’t panic, calm down BritNats! lol.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Craig Murray Scotland’s Resident Expert on Maritime Boundaries

    The pre-1999 border was already very favourable to England. In 1994, while I was Head of the Maritime Section of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, I had already queried whether it was too favourable to England. I little anticipated that five years later Blair would push it seventy miles North!!

    I should explain that I was the Alternate Head of the UK Delegation to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, and was number 2 on the UK team that negotiated the UK/Ireland, UK/Denmark (Shetland/Faeroes), UK/Belgium, and Channel Islands/France maritime boundaries, as well as a number of British Dependent Territories boundaries. There are very few people in the World – single figures – who have more experience of actual maritime boundary negotiation than me.




  5. Way back in the 1970’s Uk civil servants dreamed up a scheme for Shetland to remain part of RUK in the event of Scotland becoming Independent. The idea being that the oil would remain in Englands control.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. If the northern isles wanted to break away from Scotland it would be fair to let them go. It would also relieve Scotland of the expense of looking after the welfare of the isles. However the extra costs to the people of Shetland and Orkney would be horrendous and the loss of the benefits they enjoy at present would make independence very expensive. The big question is
    “ would the rest of Scotland be willing to accept re-entry of the northern isles once they realised how they had been conned by the unionists into voting to leave Scotland”

    Liked by 2 people

  7. From the Shetlanders I know, I would say there was a fair amount of public support for remaining with Westminster – evidenced by their continued voting for LibDems as well. It might not be a majority if put to referendum, but I think Scotland isn’t seen as the good guys, and plenty don’t want to think of themselves as Scottish. Yes it should be their choice, and no, they won’t be getting much of the waters that they rely on for their fishing and oil industry, just because of geography and international law governing the divvying up of the sea.

    It would be nice if they felt part of Scotland, but you can understand some of the long standing bitterness that must be there from having been gifted away by Denmark. I have no issue with Shetland choosing their own direction, I’m sure they could get Crown Dependency status and become a tax haven if they wish too (so not so reliant on sea industries), and wish them well if they decide a different path from the rest of Scotland.

    I think it’s more important they are given a choice – who wants to have been sold out by your own country and given no choice in where you end up – rather than what we think the benefits or pitfalls are of it. But it should be a CHOICE, not what the British establishment decides for them.

    I’m a bit more hazy on Orkney, is it not as much a part of Scotland as the western isles or Fife? I’m not sure of the history there.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. At no point have the majority of voters in the UK voted for BREXIT it still happened, you get real. Would point out it is when the referendum is held that your statement will be tested and you will get a shock.


  8. I saw a story in one of England’s right wing papers several weeks ago, that Isaac Levido was to be utilised against Scottish independence. One example used of his planned tactics was to sow dissent in the Northern Isles.
    Personally I have no issue with any of Scotland’s island groups wishing semi or full autonomous status from Scotland. It makes a lot of logistical sense.
    What doesnt make sense is for them to remain within Westminsters poisonous circle after independence.
    On a more direct note, the P&J had a poll on the Northern Isles in 2013 (I think).
    82% wanted to remain Scottish. 8% wanted independence.
    Carmichael was SoS for Scotland at the time and made promises to them, backed by Margaret Curran. I’m pretty certain nothing ever came of it.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Granted this was a while back but, when I spoke to Shetlanders, the sentiment seemed to be that, even if they didn’t want to remain part of Scotland, they didn’t want to be part of England either. They wanted to return to their Scandinavian roots.

    Of course, things may well have changed. But, let’s not forget, the SIC was well able to stand up to the oil companies and get a very good deal from them. They’re a shrewd people and much to be respected.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. There’s nothing stopping them being closer to their Scandinavian roots, but a project some years back misfired and they were shafted by the Faroese. Which suggests not a lot of Scandinavian solidarity, or else, incompetence on part of Shetland Council.

      The plan was to fund a ferry that would sail between the Faroes and Norway, stopping off at Shetland. Shetland Council poured money into it, the ferry was built, sailed between Faroes and Norway, but declined to stop at Shetland.


  10. I thought their plan was to be independent of both Scotland and the UK? It was the Lib Dems, I think, who mentioned being a Crown dependency like Jersey.


  11. These idiots who write this guff in the biased press should be sacked for not doing any research before writing.
    These Northern islands and also vthe Isle of Man were given to Scotland as part of the peace settlement with King Haacken of Norway after the Battle of Largs so England has no claim or title to them, and even less say in their future.


  12. westminster will give the shetlands and orkney a huge boost if they decide to stay within britain—- and this would easily be acomplished by the money the english tax payers SAVE by not bankrolling the rest of scotland !


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