INDEPENDENCE campaigners are preparing for a referendum to be called in the next few weeks, Green MSP Ross Greer has claimed.

Greer said he expected a successor to the Yes Scotland campaign from 2014 to begin to take shape in the coming weeks, with a formal launch after May's local elections.

Speaking to the Sunday Herald, the West of Scotland MSP said "people out there are champing at the bit it to get started".

He went on: "We are very likely to be in a position where we will know before the local elections in May if there will be a referendum, but purely for practicalities sake the launch of a campaign would probably be on the other side of the local elections.

"That's the formal launch though. That does not stop people going out and campaigning for independence before then. I know that there are discussions being had across the board not just with parties but other political groups involved.

"We will know in the next few weeks how to that a step further and in the next few weeks I expect moves will be made to form what could be that organisation

"We are working on a timescale now where Article 50 will be activated next month – that's the timescale when it will almost certainly become clear whether there's going to be are a referendum or not. So that's the timescale we should be working on to get our campaign up and running."

He said a decision to call such a vote would have to be a joint decision for the SNP and Greens, although Nicola Sturgeon's party as the Government would have to announce it in parliament

The SNP would be dependent on the Greens to get a referendum bill passed by Holyrood after losing its overall majority in May's election.

Greer said: "A decision to call the referendum would be a joint decision of the SNP and the Greens. In calling a referendum the SNP as the Government would have to come to parliament and make that announcement. That's not just their right, it's their responsibility as the Government.

"But it's a collective decision based on parliamentary arithmetic."

An SNP spokesperson, in response to Greer, said: "The Scottish Government is exploring all options to protect Scotland's place in Europe, including the option of an independence referendum if it becomes clear that this is the best way of achieving this."