COUNCILLORS in Orkney have agreed plans to look at alternative forms of governance for the islands, which were put forward over concerns of getting a “raw deal” from the Scottish and UK governments.

Council leader James Stockan had put forward a motion which said it is time for Orkney to look to crown dependencies such as Guernsey, Jersey and the Isle of Man as examples of alternative ways of being governed - or even become a territory of Norway. 

The motion was debated at a meeting of Orkney Islands Council on Tuesday, with critics raising concerns over the costs of undertaking such a report and the prospect of Orkney “turning our backs” on national government.

READ MORE: Orkney council to look at proposals to leave UK and become Norwegian territory

Downing Street had rejected suggestions Orkney could loosen ties with the UK, saying “there is no mechanism for the conferral of crown dependency or overseas territory status on any part of the UK”.

The motion will see council officers publish a report on options that could be available to the islands on how they are governed, including looking at the “Nordic connections” of the archipelago and crown dependencies such as Jersey and Guernsey.

An amendment was added which stated: “Additionally that we reinvigorate the constitutional reform consultative group with officer support to pursue amongst other things opportunities from the National Islands Plan, the Islands Arc, such as the right to request transfer of powers and to develop the Single Islands Authority work, continuing to test our national governments to deliver on commitments they have made to empower the islands and level up, as well as matters discussed today.”

Stockan told the meeting it is time for Orkney Islands Council to “look at all the options we’ve got” as he raised concerns about the treatment of the council in dealings with the Scottish and UK Governments.

He said “I say it is time for Government to take us seriously, and I say it’s time for us to look at all the options we’ve got.”

However, he played down media reports suggesting the islands will seek to become a self-governing territory of Norway, saying: “This is not about us joining Norway.

“There is a far bigger suite of options here – this could even be that we could get our money direct from the Treasury in London and look after our own future.” 

READ MORE: Orkney: Downing Street rejects suggestion to loosen ties with UK

The motion put forward stated that “due to historical and contemporary challenges” over funding, “Orkney Islands Council should now explore options for alternative models of governance that provide greater fiscal security and economic opportunity”.

That should include looking at “Nordic connections, crown dependencies and other options for greater subsidiarity and autonomy to be presented to the community for consideration”.

Stockan said the motion had every option on the table so it could be explored. 

“Our community are the people who make the decision on anything we do, but the governments are responsible for their response right now,” he added. 

But Councillor Steven Heddle argued against it, pointing to the example of Brexit as to why Orkney breaking away was not a good option.

He said none of his constituents had raised it as an issue and that every council in the country felt underfunded - describing it as the “politics of grievance”. 

“Our public do not want this - they have told us it makes us look like fools,” he added. 

The council leader’s motion did not commit the council to any of the options suggested and the officials’ report noted that any constitutional change would likely require a combination of petitions, referenda and legislation at Holyrood and Westminster.

Orkney was under Norwegian and Danish control until 1472 when the islands were given to Scotland as part of Margaret of Denmark’s wedding dowry to King James III of Scotland.