MSP bids to ban maps which put Shetland in a box

image copyrightScottish government
image captionTavish Scott highlighted a number of government publications which include maps where Shetland is in a box

An MSP has launched a bid to ban public authorities from putting Shetland in a box on maps of Scotland.

Tavish Scott, the Lib Dem MSP for the islands, said there was an "important principle" in having accurate maps.

He is attempting to amend the government's Islands Bill to include a "Shetland mapping requirement", ensuring that the islands are depicted "accurately and proportionately".

The government has said future maps would "portray our islands accurately".

MSPs are currently considering the Islands (Scotland) Bill, legislation which offers extra powers to island local authorities with the aim of giving them a "sustainable future".

The bill was unanimously backed in its first Holyrood vote in February, and the rural economy committee is now considering possible changes at stage two.

Mr Scott has tabled an amendment calling for a "Shetland mapping requirement", which all public authorities in Scotland would have to comply with.

This would stipulate that "in any map of Scotland, the Shetland Islands must be displayed in a manner that accurately and proportionately represents their geographical location in relation to the rest of Scotland".

image copyrightClydesdale Bank
image captionShetland even appears in a box on some banknotes

The Shetland MSP highlighted a series of Scottish government documents which placed Shetland in a box, either in the Moray Firth or off the Aberdeenshire coast.

He said Shetlanders were "rightly irked" to see this, adding: "I strongly believe the Scottish government should portray the country it serves with accuracy. The principle is important here.

"A recent Scottish government strategy on loneliness made this geographical mistake. I asked Scotland's most senior civil servant to correct the error.

"But from now on, I want to ensure that this mistake just cannot happen. Putting Shetland in its appropriate place would go some way to rectifying the perception that the islands are an afterthought."

A spokesman for the Scottish government said: "We have instructed our publishing contractor that future use of images of Scotland in publications must portray our islands accurately."

He also said the decision had been taken prior to Mr Scott tabling his amendment. The committee ran out of time while debating other amendments on Wednesday, meaning a further session - to include consideration of the mapping requirement - will have to be added for the following week.

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