DOWNING Street has rejected suggestions Orkney could loosen ties with the United Kingdom.

It comes as a motion will go before the local authority next week to investigate "alternative forms of governance".

Orkney’s council leader James Stockan has put forward the motion which says it is time for the islands to consider other forms of governance, possibly along the lines of crown dependencies such as Guernsey, Jersey and the Isle of Man or reviving historic ties with Norway.

But Number 10 has shut down the options, with the Prime Minister’s official spokesman telling reporters: “First and foremost, there is no mechanism for the conferral of crown dependency or overseas territory status on any part of the UK.

“But fundamentally, we are stronger as one United Kingdom, we have no plans to change that.”

The spokesman added: “We’ve got no plans to change the devolution settlement. We are supporting Orkney already with £50 million to grow the economic prosperity of the Scottish islands, through the islands deal.

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“But the Government’s position is that the UK is stronger united.”

Speaking on BBC Radio Scotland, Stockan said that there were areas where Orkney was being "failed dreadfully" by both the UK and Scottish Governments. 

Stockan also suggested another possible future for Orkney could be in the same vein as the Faroe Islands, a self-governing territory of Denmark. 

He said: "We are really struggling at the moment, we have to replace the whole ferry fleet which is older than the CalMac fleet.

"We are denied the things that other areas get like RET (Road Equivalent Tariff) for ferry fares.

"And the funding we get from the Scottish government is significantly less per head than Shetland and the Western Isles to run the same services - we can't go on as we are."

The council leader added that an in-depth study of financial arrangements for the island has never been carried out. 

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"We know that we have contributed for the last 40 years through north sea oil, and the dividend we get back isn't sufficient to keep us going,"Stockan added.

"We've got a unique opportunity right at the heart of all the wind projects round our waters."

Stockan is urging fellow members of the local authority to back his idea and find new ways for the island to have greater financial security and better economic opportunities for Orcadians.

In 2017, Orkney Islands Council previously voted to look at whether the islands could have greater autonomy, but while they wanted to have a "stronger voice", councillors did not back full independence for Orkney.