A LAW should be passed to keep Shetland in its real place on maps, an MSP claims – but the Scottish Government says it has already redrawn the rule.

LibDem Tavish Scott, who represents the islands, says locals are fed up with charts that relocate the archipelago to a box close to the Scottish mainland.

As well as on commercial maps, the practice is seen on Clydesdale Bank notes, Scottish Enterprise documents and even in diagrams drawn up by the Scottish Government. Now the politician has outlined a bid to ensure all official publications including a country map “put Shetland in the right place”.

Scott (pictured), who represents the islands, said: “Shetlanders are rightly irked when they see Shetland placed in a box in the Moray Firth. I strongly believe the Scottish Government should portray the country it serves with accuracy.

“The principle is important here. A recent Scottish Government strategy on loneliness made this geographical mistake. I asked Scotland’s most senior civil servant to correct the error. But from now on, I want to ensure that mistake just cannot happen.”

The “boxing” practice is used to overcome the near-200km distance between north-east Scotland and the northern isles, with designers using the space that would be taken up by the sea to increase the scale of the land masses instead.

Scott has submitted the bid in the form of an amendment to the Islands Bill, which is currently going through Holyrood and aims to strengthen and protect island communities. This includes a requirement for the development of a national islands plan, the introduction of an obligation on ministers and public bodies to give more consideration to islands when setting new policies and services, and protection to the Na h-Eileanan an Iar Scottish parliamentary constituency boundary. Scott’s amendment, which was submitted for discussion tomorrow, called for graphics to depict Shetland “in a manner that accurately and proportionately represents their geographical location in relation to the rest of Scotland”.

However, the Scottish Government says its publishing contractor has already been instructed to ensure “future use of images of Scotland in publications must portray our islands accurately.”

The decision predates Scott’s bid, which he said would “go some way to rectifying the perception that the islands are an afterthought” and “visually align the government with its stated political commitment to island proofing”.

However, Dr Tim Rideout, of Dalkeith-based XYZ Maps, told The National the plan is not “practical” in all circumstances. He said: “It is desirable, but to always have Shetland in the right place constricts what you can do.

“If you haven’t got lots of detail, for example on a statistical map, you could do it. For something like a road map, it makes the map of mainland Scotland smaller, so you can’t include as much detail – and you end up with a huge bit of water at the top.”