Western Isles MSP asks about Rockall benefits

Western Isles MSP, Alasdair Allan, has called for Scotland and the Western Isles to see a “practical benefit” if the United Nations declares the seabed around Rockall to be the UK’s.

Dr Allan’s comments come following news that the United Nations is to examine the competing claims between Denmark/Faroe Islands, Iceland, Ireland and the UK over the area of the continental shelf around the famous North Atlantic rock, which lies 300 miles west of the Outer Hebrides.

Alasdair Allan commented: “The dispute about which country Rockall belongs to is much more to do with the continental shelf around the rock than the rock itself. Since 1972, the UK has declared Rockall to be “part of Inverness-shire” – and which, since local government reorganisation, makes it part of the Western Isles.

“Recently Denmark, on behalf of its devolved nation, the Faroe Islands, made a submission to the “UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf”. This appears primarily aimed at establishing whether Denmark/Faroes, Iceland, Ireland or the UK would have the right to exploit any oil reserves there. That potentially becomes an important question, if the oil industry ever takes off to the West of Scotland.

“If the UN finds in the UK’s favour, that immediately begs a question – what does Scotland stand to gain? It’s not disputed that the UK Government has taken Scotland’s North Sea Oil revenues for the last forty years – it’s legitimate to ask what the UK Government intends to do with any revenues that come from oil to the West of us.

“I have written to the UK Government asking what share of any oil revenues in the relevant area of the continental shelf Scotland could expect to receive, if they are exploited. The UN Commission is expected to report in March and quadrilateral talks between the four countries affected are expected to open again in May.”