By Graeme Gardiner
Shetland is looking to independence in a bid to provide a more profitable economy for the islands and its arts.
The idea of devolution is not new for the island situated 60 miles north of John o’Groats. This time however the calls have more weight as they come from one of their most influential voices, the Convenor of Shetland Council, Mr Cluness.
He believes that in order for Shetland to prosper and to stop its declining population is to improve the economic stability of the island and its arts. A viable solution for this would be independence for the island, as this would allow tax rates to be altered to suit their needs.
Mr Cluness said: “What these islands need are viable, profitable economies and one way you can create that is through the ability to vary rates of taxes. In the 21st century there must be some way that the government could look at a different status for Shetland,”
The Shetland Islands, which consists of 100 islands of which 8 are occupied, is looking to close neighbour the Faroe Islands as an example. They have been home governed since becoming independent from Denmark in 1948 and have had a steady rise in population since then.
In June this year, its sole resident Stewart Hill declared a small Shetland Island independent. He lives on the 1.5 acre Forvik in a tent and has set up his own currency, stamp and flag. Mr Hill is exempt from all taxes and hopes that the other islanders will see what they could have and go for independence.
He said: “By declaring Forvik a crown dependency I am simply re-establishing the correct legal relationship between this part of Shetland and the crown. By doing so I will prove that Shetland as a whole can get the same benefits and more – simply by asserting rights that already exist.”