COUNCILLORS in Shetland have passed a motion to explore options for “achieving political and financial self-determination”.

Leader of the council Steven Coutts proposed the motion, which was carried yesterday by 18 to two votes.

The motion states there is concern that centralised decision-making “is seriously threatening the prosperity, and sustainability, of Shetland as a community”.

Coutts argued during the Shetland Islands Council meeting that representatives are still discussing the same issues after years, for example ferry funding.

The independent councillor called for positivity about the opportunities Shetland has to offer, and called for them to be grasped “in a way that ensures everyone in our community can thrive”.

Coutts faced vocal opposition from councillors Stephen Leask and Ian Scott, who voted against the motion.

Leask was concerned that the “people of Shetland should be consulted” at the ballot box. In response councillor Ryan Thomson said there were “myths” surrounding the motion.

Any decisions on Shetland’s future would be “made at the ballot box,” he stressed.

“It is there in black and white abundantly clear to those who read it,” Thomson added.

The motion won support from SNP councillor Robbie McGregor, who said he sincerely hoped “all options” would be considered.

He said he would pass the motion as long it was not a “back door” way of getting Shetland “into a relationship with what’s left of the UK after the Scottish independence referendum”.

Unionist commentators and politicians have leapt onto news of the motion, with Highlands and Islands Tory MSP Jamie Jalcro Johnston saying it was “no wonder islanders have run out patience” with Holyrood.

He commented: “I believe it’s right that both of our governments work with the islands to help meet the aspirations and unique needs of their people. However it is clear that the current arrangements, where so much power is centralised in Edinburgh and the needs of Shetland often ignored, is some distance from where Shetlanders want to be.”

Shetland was treated as a Norwegian province until the 15th century when it became part of Scotland.

Ahead of the 2014 independence referendum there were reports the islands could become self-governing like the Isle of Man if the rest of Scotland voted Yes while they backed staying in the Union.

LibDem MP Alistair Carmichael said in that situation a “conversation about Shetland's position and the options that might be open to it” could start.

Former MSP for the islands Tavish Scott said in 2014 that the option of becoming a crown dependency could be looked at, though he did not support full independence.