As First Minister Alex Salmond looks south and campaigns for an independent Scotland, leaders in the Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles to his north have begun talks among themselves about their own "home rule".
The leaders of the three largest island groups in the British Isles will meet in Shetland on Monday to discuss a joint project on whether they should demand to split from the Scottish and British governments after the Scottish independence referendum in 2014 - the date of which is expected to be announced on Thursday.
The convenor of Shetland Islands Council, Malcolm Bell, said the independence referendum offered an opportunity for the islands to carve out a new political settlement.
"There's no point in Westminster devolving powers to Edinburgh if they are going to stop in Edinburgh. When you're 300 miles (483 kilometres) from Edinburgh, or 700 from London, at those kind of distances, Edinburgh feels as remote as London," he said.
The councils are investigating plans to model themselves on the Isle of Man, the Channel Islands or the Falklands, which are crown dependencies and largely independent from the British government, or to mimic the self-rule deal struck by the Faroe Islands with Denmark in 1948.
Other less radical options include pressing for control over all their local fisheries, merging local health and social services, and taking control of the seabed from the Crown Estates in London to help the islands profit from the boom in wind farms, on land and offshore, and marine energy projects about to start off northern and western Scotland.
The three island groups are poised for huge growth in investment by global energy companies: major tidal and wave energy parks are planned around their shorelines, while Shetland and Orkney are already seeing hundreds of millions of pounds spent on extra oil and gas terminals to service new fields being opened up in the Atlantic and North Sea.
Tavish Scott, the member of the Scottish Parliament for Shetland and former Scottish Liberal Democrat leader, told party activists on Saturday the constitutional debate was the islands' chance to fight for their own "home rule", and a case study for the Lib Dems' localism agenda before the next general election.
Political leaders in the islands worry that their separate local authorities could be abolished after the 2014 referendum, either combined into a joint islands council or merged into a new super authority for the Highlands and Islands.
Scott said: "If we don't set out our position, we will be subsumed into Greater Grampian or Greater Highlands. As night follows day, both Labour and the Scottish National Party are centralising parties. They won't talk about public sector reform, but we know discussions are going on behind the scenes that Scotland is too big infrastructurally."