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Scott slams SNP stance on “isles oil”

SHETLAND MSP Tavish Scott is demanding Scottish first minister Alex Salmond spells out the SNP position on the islands of Scotland votes for independence in 2014.

In a letter to the first minister, Scott seeks clarification on the government’s policy towards Shetland following Wednesday Scottish Parliament debate on the future of oil and gas in an independent Scotland.

The MSP said he was “astonished” at remarks from former environment minister Stewart Stevenson that Shetland was too small to have a say on the country’s oil reserves.

Scott used Wednesday’s debate to highlight a report from London-based consultants Capital Economics saying Shetland could have a strong negotiating position because so much of Scotland’s oil lie in its coastal waters.

Following the debate, Scott said: “This week the genie flew out of the nationalist bottle. The SNP don’t believe in people determining their future unless it’s on their nationalist terms.

“That does not work in Shetland. We have had five years of losing powers and responsibilities to a nationalist government in the central belt.

“Now on the future of the country their message is clear. We will decide and you, the islands, will do what we say. Well I say no to that.”

Scott said Shetland had built up a successful professional relationship with the oil industry since the 1970s that was likely to extend for the next few decades with west of Shetland oil and gas.

But while it had brought prosperity islanders had to live with the risk, as highlighted by the Esso Bernicia and Braer oil spills.

“If independence with all the huge uncertainty that would cause were to be contemplated then Shetland will want to fight for what is fairly ours,” he said, pointing out the relationship between Faroe and Denmark.

The MSP commended Orkney Islands Council on establishing a group to consider its future under independence and called on Shetland Islands Council to do the same.

“Otherwise only one thing is certain. Shetland will be ignored as Edinburgh and London fight out the constitutional future of the UK.”