Alex Salmond Malcolm Bell
Alex Salmond (left) and Malcolm Bell (Reuters/malcolmbell.eu)

Leaders from Shetland, Orkney and Western Isles are set to meet later today to discuss Scottish Independence.

The Convention of the Highlands and Islands will be held in Lerwick in Shetland and will discuss plans for a split from the UK government.

On 18 September next year, people in Scotland will vote on whether to become an independent country. The agreement for the referendum was signed by Scotland's Alex Salmond and David Cameron in October last year.

If the nation votes yes, it has been suggested that Scotland could become independent by 2016.

Speaking about the convention, Shetland Islands Council Convener Malcolm Bell says: "As part of Monday's meeting of the Convention of the Highlands and Islands in Shetland, representatives from Shetland, Orkney and Western Isles councils will discuss the various constitutional options presented by the referendum on independence. 

"The referendum will create opportunities and challenges for all Scotland's island communities, no matter what the outcome. It's this Council's responsibility to make sure that Shetland's views are represented, and the best results achieved for the isles. 

Unique culturally and geographically 

"It is right and proper for the three island groups to be in close discussions with each other, and to speak with one voice when appropriate. However, it's equally important that we pursue the best outcome at a local level.

"It would not be in Shetland's interests to be subsumed into a larger local authority controlled from the mainland. We are unique both culturally and geographically and our interests will be best served by local people taking local decisions at a local level."

Reportedly, the council leaders will be considering how they could model themselves on other independent nations such as the Isle of Man, the Channel Islands or the Falklands.

Another option is to demand control over local fisheries, merging local health and social services and taking control of the sea bed from London's Crown Estates in order to profit from wind farms.

Around 50 delegates from local authorities and public bodies will be attending the convention.

Bell added: "We're delighted to be hosting this important event, which involves Scottish government ministers and public bodies from all over Scotland.

"This gives us a tremendous opportunity to showcase Shetland, develop and strengthen links with other organisations, and learn from their experiences."