Shetland, Orkney and Western Isles authorities want greater revenue-raising powers, improved energy connections with the mainland and a stronger recognition of their "status" in a Scottish constitutional settlement. A key demand is for control of the sea bed, allowing revenue to be redirected from the Crown Estate to local needs. New tax powers could give islanders more revenue from renewable energy and fisheries. The three island council leaders set out their ambition in a joint campaign called Our Islands Our Future.
Orkney Islands Council convener Steven Heddle said: "It is a measure of the importance of this to our three communities that we've joined forces today to ensure the voice of the islands is heard loud and clear during the pre-referendum debate. Islands by their very nature are special places with special requirements. The Western Isles, Shetland and Orkney each have a strong sense of identity. What we share is an abundance of natural resources and a pride in our cultural traditions."
Angus Campbell, leader of Western Isles Council (Comhairle nan Eilean Siar), said it represents a once-in-a-generation opportunity for the islands. "The constitutional debate offers the opportunity for the three island councils to secure increased powers for our communities to take decisions which will benefit the economies and the lives of those who live in the Islands," he said.
Shetland Islands Council leader Gary Robinson said he wants to strengthen existing governance. "There's no doubt that this is an historic opportunity for the islands, which will continue to punch above their weight in terms of their economic and cultural contribution to Scotland," he said.
Scottish Lib Dem party activists have already agreed that Shetland and Orkney should loosen ties with Scotland and the UK and that the islands have a separate right to self-determination. Tavish Scott, the Liberal Democrat MSP for Shetland said: "London is pretty remote from our Islands. When the Scottish Government spend every working day removing power, financial and policy responsibility from local people a stand must be taken. I am very pleased that the island councils have now produced a blueprint of what they want from their governments. Devolution on power in 1999 to the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh from London was meant to be about enhancing local government. Sadly the experience has been the opposite."
Socialist Courier has previously said there is no limit to self-determination. An independent Scotland with their Scottish regiments can be expected to suppress any attempt by Lerwick to take control of "their" oil.