Tuesday, March 25, 2014

First Little Scotlanders, now Little Shetlanders (erm, Vikings?)

As the battle over Scottish independence heats up, residents of three groups of remote Scottish islands, some of which straddle oil and gas fields northeast of Britain, are calling for their own breakaway votes and greater autonomy.

Islanders from Shetland, Orkney and the Western Isles have lodged a petition with the Scottish parliament asking for a vote on September 25, a week after a referendum on whether Scotland should end its ties with the United Kingdom after 307 years.

Local councils in the three island groups have also launched a campaign called "Our Islands, Our Future" to seek more powers after the September 18 vote, whatever the result, which could include control of the sea bed around the islands.

The moves follow debate over the powers that Shetland and Orkney would have if Scotland became independent, with local officials saying that around 67 percent of North Sea reserves lie within their coastal waters.

Nationalists argue Scotland can be a prosperous nation with oil money to offset its relatively higher state spending and forecasts of oil and gas revenue of between 31 billion pounds ($51 billion) and 57 billion pounds between 2012-2013 to 2017-2018.

But islanders, wary of governments in both London and Edinburgh that they accuse of ignoring their needs, are keen to control their own resources.

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