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Scottish Independence Debate / Referendum a big story in Norway

NRK correspondent Espen Aas and cameraman Johan E. Bull.

SHETLAND has always attracted plenty of camera teams to its shores – be it for scenery, wildlife, dancing ponies or, lately, murder mysteries.

What is new is that political and business editors from the big networks are making their way to the isles at 60 degrees north.

Channel 4, BBC London and now the Norwegian state broadcaster NRK are all looking for a special Shetland angle on the Scottish independence referendum.

Intrigued by the existence of a petition for a separate islands referendum, they are hoping to find the islands in uproar demanding independence from the rest of the UK.

What they discover however is that it is near impossible making contact with those behind the islands referenda campaign, and that most local people remain doubtful about any separation.

Espen Aas, the London based UK and Ireland correspondent for NRK, was in the isles on Monday and Tuesday to explore whether Shetland could again become part of Norway.

His findings will be broadcast in Norway at the weekend.

Before leaving the isles on the overnight ferry (after flights were cancelled due to low clouds) he said the fact that a part of the UK could break away was a big story in Norway.

“At the moment opinion polls show this this may not happen, but both sides are getting closer and closer every month.

“I wanted to come to Shetland after I spoke to an oil worker in Aberdeen last year.

“He told me that he didn’t believe in an independent Scotland but in an independent Shetland.

“Most people I have spoken to don’t think there will be an independent Shetland, but I think Shetland’s role is interesting because it is on the fringe and the distances to both London and Edinburgh.

“Because of that local people appear to be more inclined to vote in favour of remaining part of the UK rather than becoming part of small Scotland,” he suggested.