Plans to take Shetland ‘out of the box’ on future maps have moved a step closer – with Isles MSP Tavish Scott pushing the Scottish government to make it a reality.
Mr Scott raised the issue during a meeting of the Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee in Holyrood on Wednesday where members were considering a new islands bill.
Islands Minister, Humza Yousaf responded to an amendment lodged by Mr Scott which would require official Scottish government papers to feature Shetland in its correct geographic location.
Mr Yousaf said he had sympathy but urged Mr Scott to withdraw the amendment and work with the government to carry through the spirit of it, in a way that was practically enforceable.
Mr Yousaf also offered to contact councils to encourage them to follow the Scottish government’s change.
Mr Scott withdrew the amendment but wanted the change enshrined in law. He said he would work with the government on a correct drafting ahead of the next stage of the bill.
This will then go to a vote by MSPs.
Afterwards, Mr Scott said Mr Yousaf “accepted the spirit of the amendment” and promised to work with him to deliver an amendment ahead of the next stage of the bill.
Mr Scott added: “This is a debate about the islands, after all. And this amendment seeks to put islands in the right place.
“The logistics of getting to and from Shetland are all too often forgotten, and this has an impact on the crucial economies of the islands, for instances the movement of oil, gas and seafood.
“Recognising where Shetland is located would go a long way to understanding the challenges we face as an island.
“I am grateful to the Islands Minister for his constructive approach to my amendment, and his assurance to work together with me to work out how we can move this forward. It is my priority to ensure we use the Islands Bill to deliver a Shetland mapping requirement in law.
“I am glad the Scottish government sees the principle behind this amendment, which goes to the heart of what the Islands Bill is all about: recognition of the unique status of islands communities.”