Scotland’s Stolen Seas: The Technical Explanation 146

I do not think that any work I have done has brought me as much abuse as that on the transfer of 6,000 square miles of Scottish sea to England in 1999, effected by New Labour by Order in Council literally the day before the Scottish Parliament came into being.

Some of this criticism has been utterly bizarre, including a strange contention that the whole thing did not happen and the legislation does not exist. A marginally more rational criticism has been the contention that the new boundary – which at its extreme limit eastwards runs north of Carnoustie – reflects a genuine median line influenced by the shape of the coastline.

With thanks to this map kindly sent by Dave Philip, I wish to explain why the new boundary is not legitimate.

I do urge you to pay attention. This is important but complex.

This map shows internal waters and the territorial sea. Internal waters are, for legal jurisdictional purposes, land. The territorial sea extends for twelve miles and the law of the coastal state applies within this area. There are two further zones not shown on this map. The Exclusive Economic Zone extends for 200 miles or to a boundary with another state, and as the name says confers on the coastal state the exclusive right to the resources of the sea and seabed. Beyond that can stretch the continental shelf, where the seabed mineral resources are still available to the coastal state where there is a geological continuation.

The area of England/Scotland potential dispute is in the North Sea and relates particularly to the Exclusive Economic Zone. This simply extends out much further than the territorial sea but on the same contours. It is not shown on this map but the baselines from which it is measured are.

The Territorial Sea and Exclusive Economic Zone are measured out from the coastline. But where a coastline is either a) archipelagic or b) highly indented, the coastal state is entitled under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea to draw straight baselines between coastal points and measure its territorial sea/exclusive economic zone from those baselines rather than from the coast.

This is the key point at issue here. The extraordinary northward trend of the 1999 England/Scotland is caused solely by the massive indentation of the Lothian coastline as it curves into the Firth of Forth. Now look closely at the map. In Western Scotland, there are straight baselines in places far out to sea, and huge areas of sea are designated as “internal waters”. By comparison, in Eastern Scotland the straight baselines are extremely small and conservative by international standards and very little sea is designated as internal water.

The Western baselines have almost no impact on the Scottish/England boundary because of the position of Northern Ireland. But in the North Sea, where they would impact massively on the England/Scotland border in Scotland’s favour, they take a markedly minimalist approach in stark contrast. Remember, we are talking about the Exclusive Economic Zone not shown on the map. extending out 200 miles from the baselines.

After independence I would make a maximalist claim and draw a straight baseline from Eyemouth to Peterhead, enclosing the highly indented coastline. Then measure and delimit the seas from there. This would straighten the England/Scotland border back towards the traditional East West alignment. In so doing, I would make plain that this would not involve any claim to push the outer limits of Scottish seas further or to adjust the boundary with countries across the North Sea; it would merely affect the angle of the England/Scotland border and where the England/Scotland border strikes the tripoint. I would be prepared to pull back that baseline a bit in negotiation. I am a former Head of the Maritime Section of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and have actually negotiated maritime boundaries for the UK in real life. These things are very much a negotiation, which infuriates the academics who like to believe they are issues of pure geometry.

There are two other points worth considering:

1) The UK has never claimed international boundaries are a matter of pure geometry. Its boundaries are always officially characterised as a modified median line, to acknowledge the give and take of negotiation.
2) The UN Convention on the Law of the Sea does not mandate that the boundary has to be a median line. Other factors may be taken into account including historical jurisdiction. This is a major further argument in Scotland’s favour.

I apologise for the length and detail of this, but the facile and ill-informed criticism had become somewhat annoying.

146 thoughts on “Scotland’s Stolen Seas: The Technical Explanation

1 2
  • MJ

    What a shame the majority of Scots don’t want independence from the UK, even after the Brexit vote. At least Scottish fishermen will benefit from the great fish bonanza that will follow the UK reclaiming its terrritorial waters.

    • nevermind

      You must be dreaming MJ, territorial waters are already been usurped by commercial outside interests, whether its the King of Norway operating wind turbines or Dong energy.
      Unsustainable fisheries sadly will decline whatever nationalist fervour is applied, as studies show that zooplancton and fish fry are mesmerised by degrading plastics in our seas, they think its great food.
      Once consumers realise this to its full extend and the demand for fish recedes, fisheries will decline to not very much at all, regardless of borders, claims or peeps who like to get into cod war mark 2.

      • MJ

        Cheer up, it may never happen. In any case, the prospect of losing all that lovely fish will surely concentrate EU minds when the time comes. At the moment they’re helping themselves to tons of it.

    • Habbabkuk

      I find the above comment rather opaque and should like clarification of what is actually being claimed before I venture my own comment.

      Is MJ claiming that Scottish fishermen would benefit from this “great fish bonanza” if the entire UK as now constituted left the EU (and therefore the Common Fisheries Policy) or only in the event of a future independent Scotland remaining in the EU (and continuing to be subject to the CFP)?

      • craig Post author

        Yes, I have seen it before. Frankly it’s not that great. I will see if I can dig out my comments on it. I have read accounts in academic journals by lawyers of boundaries that I actually negotiated myself, where the academics’ interpretation bears no relationship to the negotiations themselves. Don’t get hooked up into thinking academic lawyers are authoritative.

        • giyane

          “You are old,” said the youth, “And your jaws are too weak
          For anything tougher than suet;
          Yet you finished the goose, with the bones and the beak—
          Pray, how did you manage to do it?”

          “In my youth,” said his father, “I took to the law,
          And argued each case with my wife;
          And the muscular strength which it gave to my jaw,
          Has lasted the rest of my life.”

          My sisters who are dealing with my late mum’s will tell me the solicitors’ communications about probate are completely incomprehensible, perhaps deliberately so.

          Gordon Brown’s legacy is that he failed to question Thatcher banking policy while at the same time he rescued millions from family poverty.

          I don’t suppose he was thinking about fish when he re-drew the boundary, and they move around anyway. It must have been oil.

          There is a general rule for land that sits on oil like Iraq which they used to say has the 2nd largest reserves of it, that no benefit whatsoever accrues from it to the general population sitting over it. International law is pissed on for the acquisition of it. I am sure there must be some in-employed Daesh sitting around in Idlib on whom our Boris could call if your meddling with the boundaries idea persists.

        • yesindyref2

          Not authoratative no, but a starting point for “Realpolitik”, and the nearest that probably exists to one favourable to Scotland, rather than “It’s the UK’s oil”.

  • promenade

    The most powerful devolved parliament in the world didn’t get consulted or even notified.

  • Becky Cohen

    Sorry to post off topic, Craig, but as someone who has knowledge in the human rights field, isn’t with-holding medical assistance and treatment from prisoners illegal under international law?

    Under the Geneva Convention, denying medical assistance, treatment and medications to prisoners of war has been for some time now so I’d be surprised if prisons holding civilian inmates weren’t subject to similar regulations. If so, the Tory government might have acted illegally with regard to the above case.

  • promenade

    The claiming of rights to areas of continental shelf is relatively modern. First made by the United States in the 1940s over the continental shelf in the Gulf of Mexico. Thereby securing the oil for the US. Mexico getting a raw deal as it so often has.

  • John Goss

    “These things are very much a negotiation, which infuriates the academics who like to believe they are issues of pure geometry.”

    As I recall the academics knew that it was not an issue of pure geometry and tried to teach accordingly at least at Birmingham. UNCLOS is one part of International Law and very complicated on its own. I tried to think of an island occupied by two separate countries and Haiti and the Dominican Republic sprung to mind.

    Haiti signed UNCLOS III (1983 rat: 1996) after Jean-Claude Duvalier had previously set out territorial claims (1972 and 1977 decree 38). The subtle differences are found in this article but the zones are not shown on the included map.

    On the map in this PDF article from US government the Dominican Republic stakes its archipelagic and other claims (contested by the US). and there is a very good map (page 8) which you may find useful, showing that its claims emanate from its border with Haiti.

    Of course the first course of action before debating territorial waters would be to achieve independence if that is still the desire.

  • fred

    “The subject of this debate is a key element of the devolution process. Members have heard a great deal about the Scottish Adjacent Water Boundaries Order, but I regret that much of what has been said has been misinformed. I want to take the next few moments to stick to the facts about what is set out in the order. An example of that misinformation is, as I read or heard somewhere, that the boundary begins at Carnoustie: that is simply not true. The exact distance due east from Carnoustie to the boundary line is nearly 93 miles, or—as I understand some members are keen that it be expressed both ways—81 nautical miles. At its nearest point to Carnoustie, the boundary is closer to north Sunderland.

    The most important point is that it is also wrong to claim that a legally enforceable boundary line has been shifted. This is the first time that a fisheries boundary has been fixed in law. Before devolution, there were no Scottish fishing waters. There were only British fishing limits. The so- called existing line is simply part of an administrative arrangement within a UK-wide management regime. The boundary lines in the order are being drawn in accordance with international convention on such matters and—as members who have studied this matter will be aware—have involved the use of median lines.

    The net effect of that approach is that every point on the boundary line is equidistant from Scotland and England. All the sea in the Scottish zone is closer to Scotland and all the sea south of the boundary is closer to England. I find that approach to be demonstrably fair, reasonable and legally defensible. We are talking about an aspect of the devolution settlement.”

    The Scottish Minister for Rural Affairs, Ross Finnie when the Scottish adjacent waters boundaries were debated and approved in the Scottish Parliament on the 3rd of June 1999.

    • promenade

      Before devolution Scottish waters were still under the jurisdiction of Scots Law and therefore distinct.

      • fred

        There were no Scottish waters, there still are no Scottish waters, nor English waters or Irish waters or Welsh waters.

        There are UK waters.

        You don’t really want Scotland to pay all the £24 Bn decommissioning costs for the North Sea do you?

    • Node

      The net effect of that approach is that every point on the boundary line is equidistant from Scotland and England.

      That boundary line isn’t infinitely fractal, therefore the coastline has been rounded off. At what resolution should the coastline be rounded? A straight baseline from Eyemouth to Peterhead would be advantageous to Scotland. Westminster chose a resolution which is extremely advantageous to England. As Craig implies, a fair solution would be somewhere in between.

      • fred

        You are quoting Ross Finnie, he was Minister for Rural Affairs at the time, our elected representative in the Scottish government and the man who’s job it was to examine all the evidence and to take all the decisions before putting it to Parliament for approval.

        If you don’t like how he did it take it up with him.

        • Node

          You are quoting Ross Finnie […..] If you don’t like how he did it take it up with him.

          What a weird reply!

          YOU quoted Ross Finnie. If you don’t agree with him, why did you quote him without comment? And regardless of that, I am making what I believe to be a relevant reply to your post. Do YOU agree or disagree with my point?

          • fred

            What makes you think I don’t agree with him?

            He said the method for deciding boundaries of fisheries jurisdiction was far and I agree. You are the one seems to think it isn’t.

          • Node

            What makes you think I don’t agree with him?

            Because you made a point of saying they were his words not yours.

            He said the method for deciding boundaries of fisheries jurisdiction was far and I agree. You are the one seems to think it isn’t.

            ….which doesn’t address the point I made that the position of the boundary line depends on how finely you follow the coastline. However I have had enough arguments with you to know that you never concede a point which weakens your message, so I’ll leave it there.

    • craig Post author


      I don’t believe you have read a single word in the post about the problem re baselines with how the boundary is delineated.

      • fred

        I read what you said about baselines. I downloaded a map with the border on it. I went into Paint Shop Pro and I checked to see what difference your baseline from Eyemouth to Peterhead would make and it isn’t very much at all. The start and end points would still be in the same place, it would flatten the line out slightly but not to any great extent. It’s only sea water what difference does it make?

        • yesindyref2

          Fred, the current one goes off at about 045 dgrees, Craig’s goes off at 090. Since when is the difference between 090 degrees and 045 degrees “isn’t much at all”? It’s one-eigth of the compass!

          • fred

            The first part of the line would be the same as the nearest point would be between Eyemouth at Berwick. The last part of the line would be the same as the nearest point would be Peterhead. The middle wouldn’t be all that different as the nearest point didn’t go deep into the hollow anyway.

          • fred

            Look if you have evidence what I say in not true then post it. I went to the trouble to download a map and plot where the boundary would be using a baseline between Eyemouth and Peterhead. You do the same and you will see I am right.

          • yesindyref2

            I’m not responsible for your use of paintshop pro. Perhaps you turned the map around 90 degrees by mistake?

            Peterhead is roughly North of Berwick. The border starts at Berwick. 90 degrees on the compass is East. If you head out due East from Berwick and keep going due East from now to eternity, you will never never never ever, reach Peterhead.

  • Habbabkuk

    Sorry for the O/T but it looks as if the BDS Brigade has suffered a most welcome defeat.

    The summary of an article in Mondoweiss of yesterday :

    “David Lloyd, a founding member of the US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, reflects on the failure of the Modern Language Association to endorse a boycott of Israeli academic institutions: “What was all too clear was that the right to academic freedom does not really extend beyond the boundaries of a quite narrowly defined Western academy, of which Israel’s academy is an honorary member.” – See more at:

    Good for the Modern Languages Association!

    • Habbabkuk

      Note, in passing, Mr David Lloyd’s sour, clunking prose as revealed in the quotation. He sounds like one of those ghastly left-wing academics in Malcolm Bradbury’s “The History Man” 🙂 A dubious democrat.

    • bevin

      “Sorry for the O/T but it looks as if the BDS Brigade has suffered a most welcome defeat.”
      I am sure that the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine will agree with you. Those who get in the way of non violent protests and demonstrations do nothing to protect their cause, they merely ensure that the matters at issue are arbitrated by violence.

      • Habbabkuk

        Appalling, Bevin.

        You are in effect saying that the failure of the Modern Languages Association to bow to the demands of the BDS people will justify terrorist action by the PFLP.

        Your comment, which constitutes support for acts of terrorism, has been noted – you’ve really blown it this time.

  • Fearghas MacFhionnlaigh

    I am pretty sure I remember a clip (on Reporting Scotland at the time) of Donald Dewar signing the document. Frustratingly, I cannot recall the talkover gloss. I don’t suppose archives are kept of all Reporting Scotland broadcasts…?

  • Sackerson

    I have suggested* that rather than submit to the embraces of the EU, an independent Scotland might seek alliances with northern neighbours such as Iceland and Norway. Together with these two, Scotland would control a vast and fecund fishing area. [ See map here: ]

    Quite possibly there is also potential in mountainous Scotland for not only hydroelectric power but hydro power storage capacity, which will be needed as the UK and other countries move further towards greener but erratic power generation systems; Norway has much to teach, it seems:

    Why any Scot who loves his or her liberty would wish to disengage from the UK and immediately afterwards surrender sovereignty to an anti-democratic, wealth-centralising entity like the EU is beyond me, though perhaps you can make it plain. Perhaps hatred for the one (why? surely the real historical villains are a’ deid) blinds one to the dangers of the other.

    * “Could a free Scotland manage economically?”, Broad Oak Magazine, April 27, 2014

    • Colin Dunn

      “Why any Scot who loves his or her liberty would wish to disengage from the UK and immediately afterwards surrender sovereignty to an anti-democratic, wealth-centralising entity like the EU is beyond me”

      Why swap one union for another? Because the one we’re in doesn’t give us the power to choose what’s best for Scotland, and the other will. One is a political union without sovereignty, and the other a trading union with sovereignty.

      • giyane

        Sovereignty under the Federal EU = hoveringty. If you can sustain levitation at 150 mm off the ground all year round, maybe you will also be able to sustain your sovereignty.

      • lysias

        Well, there’s a good chance the EU will soon expire. Dutch, French, and German elections could decide the matter in short order.

        • Habbabkuk


          And if it did, you’d be happy because you’ve said the EU was a CIA construct and you profess to be very anti-CIA.

      • Salford Lad

        A Nation is not Sovereign ,unless it controls the issue of its own currency for the promotion of its Economy.
        Scotland will lose control when it joins the Euro and is subject to ECB restrictions. The SNP badly require an Economist to advise on the dangers of Monetary union with the EU.
        I would suggest they study the writings of Bill Mitchell, Micheal Hudson and other Modern Monetary Theory advocates.

        • Muscleguy

          Sigh, to adopt the Euro a state must have an independent currency stable in ERM II for at least 2 years prior to adoption. The placing of a currency in ERM II is not compulsory and nobody can be or is forced to do so. The Danes and Swedes have not done so for eg. And of course Sterling is rather famously not in ERM II. Remember that?

          So, even if we mint a Scotpound post independence the EU cannot and will not force us to put it in ERM II and thus we cannot be forced to take the Euro.

          These are matters of demonstrable fact. I suggest you inform yourself before you lecture others on their lack of knowledge. I have lost count of the number of times I have posted the above over the last 5 or so years. Yet ignorant polemicists like you trot out your solecism of us being forced to adopt the Euro. False news.

          Consider this though if we do leave the Sterling zone post Independence: once the oil and gas reserves, our positive balance of payments, our increasing energy excess production etc then Sterling will, inevitably lose value. The prospect of Brexit has caused Sterling to tank. Scottish Independence outside Sterling would cause it to fall further.

          Be careful what you wish for, in a couple of years you will look at the Euro with envious eyes.

    • MJ

      “Why any Scot who loves his or her liberty would wish to disengage from the UK and immediately afterwards surrender sovereignty to an anti-democratic, wealth-centralising entity like the EU is beyond me”

      It might be something to do with all those “Funded by the EU” signs they see around the place. If they think that, in an “independent Scotland in the EU”, such funding will carry on as before without them having to pay through the nose for it then they have another think coming.

        • Muscleguy

          Not if we don’t enter the Euro. See my post upthread for why that is unlikely and not immediately possible.

          In addition our public finances are not in any state comparable with Greece’s. People pay their taxes here, civil servants are not feather bedded, our GDP per head is much higher and our economy is much more diversified and does not rely solely on tourism.

  • Charlie Clark

    Surely the start point of any border negotiation on U.K. break up should be the, agreed by treaty, boundary before union. The eastern maritime boundary was “a line extending from the mouth of the river Tweed” and the mouth of the Tweed points East South East so the old East-West line already gave what had been Scottish waters into English administration.
    This is also the treaty status of Berwick as “a part of Scotland but under English administration”. This was why Berwick was always listed separately in U.K. treaties and remained “at war with Russia”, as I recall, from the end of the Crimean war until the 1970’s.
    There cat properly among the pigeons.

  • Loony

    Is it not the case that the methodology employed to determine Scottish/English sea border is exactly the same methodology used in 1965 to determine and codify the UK/Norwegian sea border?

    If this is the case and if it is also the case that Scottish sea has been “stolen” by the English then UK sea (most of which would belong to Scotland were it to be independent) must have been stolen by the Norwegians.

    On this logic Norway must owe massive reparations – reparations I suspect they will decline to pay. The solution is obvious. Norway should be the first country to be invaded and occupied by an independent Scotland. Or could it possibly be that Scottish Nationalists could not care less how much Norway has stolen from them for the simple reason that Norwegians are not English.

    • fred

      It isn’t the border between Scotland and England. It’s the boundary of jurisdiction for fisheries protection. A cod on one side of the line is protected by Scotland and a cod on the other side is protected by England.

    • craig Post author

      No, it isn’t. and read the post re baselines. I am quite prepared to answer any points on how the boundary should be fixed, but not from arses who can’t be bothered to apply their intellects to what the post actually says.

    • Sharp Ears

      Win win for the oil companies –

      ‘The decomissioning bill is currently spread across the UK but Scots could be left to pick up the tab in the event of independence. And First Minister Nicola Sturgeon will not be able to use oil wealth as an argument for a split if there is another referendum.

      Scottish Labour MSP Jackie Baillie said: “This report underlines how vital it is that the SNP Government take steps to grow the economy. They ignored the oil jobs crisis as it was politically embarrassing given their claims about an independent Scotland but they can’t do so in the future.

      “Losing tax income will have severe consequences for public spending.”
      Jackie Baillie MSP

      Decommissioning is expected to take up to 50 years but Wood Mackenzie reckon a fifth of the spending will be in the next five years. Oil companies will pay the £53billion decommissioning cost up front but energy groups then get almost half their money back from the taxpayer through tax relief.’

      From the article.

      • yesindyref2

        You might want to read this, specially the first page. The UK as the party would be responsible for the clear up and prevention of toxic or haxardous waste in its waters, and that would hold in respect of isnatallation it had caused to be built or licensed to be built. So the UK is responsible now, for any duties and costs that have been, are and will be incurred in respect of this, for decomissioning.

        Secondly it is the UK up till now that controls licences for exploration or exploitation, and it is the UK that is legally liable for any agreements it has with commercial operators.

        Thirdly when the UK ceases to exist, as it does when Scotland “leaves” the UK, the UK’s assets, debts, liabilites and responsibilites will be split according to law but also by negotiation. In general, to protect commercial operations, commercial contracts are protected when a state splits, so one or other or both would have to take responsibility.

        Fourthly, it is exceedingly likely the rUK or whatever it wants to call itself as Michael Forsyth said in the House of Lords, WILL want to be the Continuing UK. It can do this by agreement with Scotland, or acceptance by the international community. If it is the cUK, then it will have legal liability for ALL contracts the former UK made, including ALL decommissioning costs it may have agreed to.

        If in that case Scotland is prepared to take any share of debt and liability, then I daresay there will be things that Scotladn will want in exchange for such generosity.

        Welcome to the world of RealPolitiks.

  • Helen

    What does this really mean for Scotland, does it mean they are trying to lay claim to North sea oil or similar. I am not a geography genius but exactly the opposite.
    I read your explanation but am still a bit confused especially with all the data information. An explanation inLayman’s terms would be more helpful. There is not anything the man in the street can do.

    • fred

      It means that the best way to get a blood and soil Nationalist feeling very aggrieved is to make him think someone stole some of his territory.

    • yesindyref2

      Helen, there’s little or no dispute Scotland will be entitled to “our” waters, including a geographical share of the large 200 nautical mile Exclusive Economic Zone, in which sits the UK’s Oil & Gas installations.

      This is about a very small part of that, which Craig (and I and others) claim was wrongly given to the rest ot the UK in 1999, whereas it should belong to Scotland – even now as far as Devolution is concerned.

      It’s a detail, not the whole thing.

  • fred

    “There are two other points worth considering:

    1) The UK has never claimed international boundaries are a matter of pure geometry. Its boundaries are always officially characterised as a modified median line, to acknowledge the give and take of negotiation.
    2) The UN Convention on the Law of the Sea does not mandate that the boundary has to be a median line. Other factors may be taken into account including historical jurisdiction. This is a major further argument in Scotland’s favour.”

    1) It isn’t an international boundary.
    2) It not being an international boundary the UN Convention on Law of the sea does not apply.

  • Loony

    Is it not the case that the UK claims jurisdiction over waters in the vicinity of the Falkland Islands and that in 1982 the UK fought a war to ensure that the Falkland Islands remained under its jurisdiction? Rumors abound that the waters around the Falklands may be rich in natural resources.

    Given that Scots citizens formed a part of the UK military forces that confronted the Argentine invader then it seems only just that part of the UK claimed waters around the Falklands be allocated to an independent Scotland. No doubt a negotiated settlement can be reached as between Scotland that the rUK.

    The biggest problem might be the cost to Scotland of projecting sufficient military power to hold onto that which they retain by force. Holding onto these possessions may cause Scotland diplomatic problems with substantially all countries south of the USA. Or maybe the idea is to reach a negotiated settlement with the Argentinians such that Scotland hands over its share of the Falkland Islands waters to Argentina. After all in common with Norwegians, Argentinians are not English.

    • michael norton

      Scotland could keep one of the new aircraft carriers, after all, they built them, so why not.
      They would have to fund the running of the monster.

  • geomannie


    As you are very well aware, all boundaries for Exlcusive Economic Zones are only defined by negotiation. As there was no negotiation, in the event of Scottish independence, the current imposed boundary could and would be challenged under international law by the new Scottish nation.

    What you have not acknowledged, however, is that the pre-1987 boundary, strictly along the line of lattitude would be very unfair to England. In an independent Scotland, neither the pre-1987 or post-1987 boundary would likely stand once the International Court
    of Justice (ICJ) or an arbitral tribunal constituted under UNCLOS reviewed the data. Compromise would be best for both parties.

    When talking of borders, it is also worth considereing the land border. As a frequent visitor to Berwick-upon-Tweed, it rankles that this Scottish town has been appropriated by England. We need it back.

    • michael norton

      Before 2030, half of all the Electricity in the world will be provided by renewables.
      An Independent Scotland will not get much revenue from the Scottish seas, with oil at $10 / barrel
      especially as scotland will be liable for de-commissioning the infrastructure.
      England will not be obliged to purchase Scottish electricity.

      • Muscleguy

        The EU is planning to build an interconnector up the middle of the North Sea. We can connect to that and sell our excess electricity that way. Or build a cable from Scotland to the Irish Republic and sell them our power. Or build a cable to Norway and sell our power in Scandinavia.

        This is the thing about Independence, it allows you to do things differently from how they have been done before.

        BTW at the moment the UK as a whole imports significant amounts of power from France. Once the Brexit happens the possibility of that continuing is up in the air. The French are not in a generous mood. The price could well go up as it will no longer be subject to EU rules.

        rUK could if it isn’t careful find itself along in the electricity world having pissed off anybody who even wants to sell them some of it.

        BTW as the world warms and the lack of water in places like Kent continues to bite you can buy water from whoever wants to sell it and nobody will be forced to sell you water no matter how much of it they might have. Note any water we sell you will have been used to generate power first, often several times. It might also have been used to cool whisky, gin or other spirit undergoing distillation. Every major river in Scotland is managed. There is a section of the Garry near Pitlochry which is dry during the week. The water is diverted to generate power. At the weekend it flows in the river again to be enjoyed by kayakers, white water rafters and the like.

        You may wish to further note that Scottish Water is still in public hands in Scotland. It was never privatised. We could use the profits to buy some of your water companies like state owned enterprises in Europe have bought bits of UK national assets. Why should we not join in if you are silly enough to sell it off?

    • promenade


      Because we’re not one country but four and the largest one has abandoned welfare, wealth redistribution, fairness to immigrants and friendly international relations. So the second largest country has had enough of all that retrograde nationalism and wishes to pursue a different line.

      • fred

        You’re entitled to your opinion, same as anyone else.

        But you’re not entitled to speak for Scotland, you are not Scotland, you only think you are.

      • Chris

        Abandoned welfare? Well I’m English and I fucking haven’t you verminous filth-pig!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • RobG

    On a related matter, the royals own most of the foreshore (tidal zone) in the UK and associated territories. Here’s a parliamentary question with regard to the Duchy of Cornwall…

    The foreshore might not seem like a big deal, but it adds-up to a huge amount of territory that’s rich in resources.

    Does anyone know what the situation with the foreshore in Scotland is?

    • Loony

      You may be surprised to learn that some years ago the Mersey Docks and Harbour Board went on something of a buying spree with regard to UK foreshore. In 2013 MD&HB were acquired by an entity called Peel Holdings. Peel Holdings also own Liverpool John Lennon Airport and one can only Imagine what they want with UK foreshore – perhaps they like to sit on the shore watching the wheels go round.

      • RobG

        Loony, the foreshore is a very lucrative business, even in a crap climate like the UK’s. This includes beach franchises – deckchairs, ice cream, and donkeys, if they still have them, etc – and small boat moorings, and sea foods such as cockles…

        … which is a multi-million euro industry.

        Then there’s other much bigger industries – such as nuclear or oil – which have to either discharge or intake water via the foreshore, which they have to pay for. Most of this money goes to the Crown. It’s a real ball of wool if you look into it, and involves vast sums of money.

  • Oliver Williams

    Thanks for that, it is a reasonable starting point.
    I wonder if the english side will try to be reasonable from the start ?
    What is the scottish baseline for negotiations ?
    I would imagine it would be to start from the 1987 boundary and then work towards a mutual agreement.
    What would happen if the de-commissioning of the oil fields was to cost more than the remaining oil ?
    At what point in the future would this be the case and so – given the horizon for independence being 5 to 10 years – is it something worth fighting for now with respect to the remaining oil ?

    • michael norton

      In about fifteen years time, the de-commissioning costs, will exceed the potential revenue.
      It is expected that oil will drop to 410 / barrel
      soon. There is just so much of the stuff.

      • nevermind

        above, in one sentence you announce that by 2030 alternative energy sources would supply our grids for most of its needs, then you claim that the decommissioning costs, clearly a case for lawyers to sort as the producers can’t possibly get off without paying for any amelioration, would bankrupt Scotland.

        Scotland can generate its electricity needs and that of others, should the demand exist, without bothering to look at oil. The immense capabilities and latent energy that lies within the seas surrounding Scotland waiting to be exploited in a sustainable manner, make all that dirty oil mucking about a thing of the past.
        lastly the Norths sea, due to its shallow sea floor it has been and still is to certain extent, a breeding sea for many species that frequent these waters. It would make much more sense to look after it and keep it as clean as possible, then to exploit an already exploited breeding sea/nursery for all of us in Scotland, Denmark, Norway, England, Germany, Holland, Belgium and France. If we can stop burning highly toxic substances at sea and clean up the rivers of effluent and plastics which, lead into it, then we are preserving a common asset and sustainable fisheries.

        To see this in a oil and gas exploitation frame alone is rather daft and backward. Sometimes I think that posters here have no families grandchildren and or any understanding of the basics of life that keeps us going.

        As a regular of many North sea conferences in the past I can say that selfish and greed runs like a fat thread through them and only of late have the dire warnings of fish exploitation and toxic waste disposal been heard.
        I hope that a future Independent Scotland will realise its full potential with regards to sustainable fisheries and energy generation, hope is all we have left in the 21st. century, sadly, intelligence and communal sustainable resolve is not what stimulates international meetings.

  • Cynthia

    The crucial issue here is not the Scottish people’s right to use and enjoy Scotland’s resources (though that’s what stimulates BP personas repeating remain slogans) but their right to environmental hygiene. Scotland is in for a spate of Deepwater Horizon type ecocide, and the Scottish people need self-determination to ensure BP is made to bear restitution for the consequent destruction. When BP destroys fisheries and foodstocks their panicked experimentation (poisonous dispersants, genetically-modified microbes) must not be allowed to devastate the Scottish coast.

  • Loony

    The UK claims that a significant portion of Antarctica belongs to it. It is believed that the Antarctic likely holds significant deposits of a range of natural resources. It is beyond doubt that the Antarctic holds vast reserves of fresh water – reserves that may become inordinately valuable given the projected effects of global warming.

    What part of the UK’s Antarctic holdings should be assigned to an independent Scotland? Do the Scots care that large swathes of any antarctic holdings that may be allocated to (or negotiated by) Scotland will likely be the subject of ownership claims by Argentina and Chile.

    I do so wonder what happened the last time an independent Scotland became embroiled in Latin America. Are there any Scottish nationalist historians who could provide an answer?

    • lysias

      The failure of the Scottish Darien colony in 1700 was one of the major factors leading to the Acts of Union in 1707.

      • promenade

        The failure of British nationalists to accept the UK’s loss of world power status was one of the major factors leading to a Leave vote in 2016.

        A more relevant event topic for the present day than the Darien Scheme.

        • Loony

          George Santayana observed that “those who cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it”

          By random co-incidence Santayana was of the Latin culture as are Chile, Argentina and the location of the Darien scheme.

          • promenade

            A very conservative Spanish/US philosopher who never lived and worked in Latin America, two randomly chosen Latin American countries and a small scale failed colonial adventure four hundred years ago. A very random and meaningless mini-list which proves nothing whatsoever about the wisdom of Scottish independence in the 21st century.

          • Loony

            Not so randomly chosen – but quite carefully chosen Latin American countries. Both of them claim territory currently possessed by the UK.

            Given that this blog post is about the division of sea as between England and Scotland it follows logically that an independent Scotland would have claim to some part of the territories and seas currently possessed by the UK. This would potentially bring Scotland into direct conflict with other claimants of their allocated or negotiated share of these territories.

            Darien could be described as “a failed colonial venture” or it could be described as a failed venture that resulted in the bankruptcy of Scotland and left it no choice other than to unify with England. In other words Scotland once was independent but it lost its independence as a consequence of its own recklessness.

            Whether you like it or not actions have consequences.

    • yesindyref2

      The Antarctic was 100% the responsibility of Scotland and Northern Ireland a few years back – Wales and England had none, as it was devolved by mistake. Not sure whether that’s been resolved yet!

    • Muscleguy

      Under the Antarctic Treaty all territorial claims in Antarctica are in abeyance. I’m also a Kiwi by naturalisation so I know a bit of this. Countries like the US and Russia conspicuously and deliberately ignore all territorial claims in Antarctica. McMurdo station, the biggest US presence there sits just down the road from NZ’s Scot Base (inherited from the UK) for eg. The Russians have bases dotted around the continent.

      I’m afraid the rUK will be forced to shoulder the Crown Overseas Territories. It may interest you to know the UK tried to offload Pitcairn on NZ after NZ hosted the trials of the paedophiles from there. NZ declined. Such territories are not held so dearly as you might think.

      I wouldn’t absolutely rule out iScotland seeking a chunk of Antarctica but I don’t expect us to. We will be too engaged claiming our chunk of the Arctic.

  • Bob Nugent


  • yesindyref2

    Bascially from that paper there’s a map showing possible median lines, none as far north as the current one. The “most likely” decision would be 12nm out from the line of the immediate coast head – largely same as currently. This is to protect and portion local fishing. But from there for the rest of the EEZ, a larger baseline from the “general direction” of the adjoining coastlines of England and Scotland, up to Edinburgh, down past Newcastle, which gives a much more easterly direction.

    So yes, roughly 6,000 missing square miles.

      • michael norton

        A former SNP cabinet minister has warned the party faces a tougher battle than before in attempting to win a new referendum on Scottish “independence” within the E.U.

        Kenny MacAskill said the economics were “arguably both less favourable and more complicated” than in 2014.

        And he said the question of what currency an independent Scotland would use still “hangs like a dark cloud” over any future campaign.

          • yesindyref2

            It;s not just about oil it’s about other resources in an EEZ, and even the storage area for CO2 in CCS UKCS storage. Scotland would have over a quarter of the whole of Europe’s area for that, if it ever takes off “commercially”. Your other postings are nothing to do with the maritime boundaries, which are a matter of international law and negotiations of a geographical resource, not economics.

    • Muscleguy

      I did a slight doubletake to your 12nm, to me that means nanometres, an SI unit. As an electron microscopist I have measured things in nm.

  • yesindyref2

    I’ve read your article now, and from my reading you’d be lucky to get a line up as far as Peterhead for the baseline from which the median line is generally (with wiggles) drawn perpendicularly. You would get one from Eyemouth down to Bamburgh at least, but more likely Alnmouth, as Bamburgh / Seahouses would be considered a local promontory (as would Fife etc, though that’s larger).

    That means roughly the current 12nm, but then a median line a little bit north of east, rather than due east. Clearly negotiation would start fr Scotalnd claiming a due east median line, similar to the South American countries. Personally I’d hold out for the prependicular to the Eyemouth Alnmouth line, though a stage in the neogitaion would be Eyemouth down to Sunderland as the baseline.

    A massive advantage is of course that the UK itself has negotiated fully its own domestic EEZ with Norway, Denmark, Holland and Belgium back in the 702 or thereabouts. Its arguments for its EEZ could be used for ours – precedent if you like.

    Yes, some wiggly bits could go around local areas in the EEZ of current economic activity, but these are mostly old oil and gas fields. The might be denoted as, I think it’s called “Common Zones”. There is also an obligation to honour current commercial agreements by successor states.

    • fred

      “It was a simple question I asked earlier: who owns the foreshore in Scotland?”

      Crown Estates.

  • yesindyref2

    “draw a straight baseline from Eyemouth to Peterhead”

    That’s a mistake, perhaps a typo. Both of those are in Scotland, the baseline would be one end in Scotland – Peterhead if you like, but the other end in England – perhaps Alnmouth, hence the typo.

    That could be where people are getting confused.

    • fred

      No that isn’t where people are getting confused.

      People have been told the line is the border between England and Scotland, it isn’t, they are confused.

      People have been told the line was introduced in secret by the Labour government and imposed on Scotland at the last minute. It wasn’t, it was openly discussed over a period of months by a cross party committee which included MPs from Scotland and was voted on and approved by the Scottish Parliament. They are confused.

      People are being deliberately confused. The criticism of Craig is neither facile nor ill-informed he keeps repeating things which are demonstrably untrue.

      • yesindyref2

        Richard Lochhead: “The internationally renowned lawyer, Alan Perry, of D J Freeman—in London, of all places—published his views on the Anglo-Scottish maritime boundary in the “Litigation Review”. He gave his opinion because he felt so strongly about the matter. He called the Government’s ruling on the boundary a “dreadful blunder” and labelled its claim to be following international law as “disingenuous in the extreme”.”

        • fred

          It’s a domestic matter, nothing to do with international law.

          However reading through the debate, which was about fisheries not international borders, I came across this:

          “The nationalist agenda is obvious. As Mr Rumbles said, the issue presents an opportunity to bash the Labour UK Government. That is fair enough—it is what Opposition parties are all about. Perhaps I am less shocked by that than Mr Rumbles is. It also presents an opportunity to stir up anti-English sentiments—The use of terminology such as “disputed zones”, and even “stolen waters”, stirs up such sentiments.”

          And that about sums it up doesn’t it?

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