Councillors in Orkney have backed plans to investigate alternative methods of governance, including the possibility of becoming a self-governing territory of Norway.

The motion, which was backed by 15 votes to six, mandates officials to “explore options” that would “provide greater fiscal security and economic opportunity for the islands.”

This investigation will include looking at “Nordic connections, crown dependencies and other options for greater subsidiarity and autonomy.”

That could be along the lines of the Faroe Islands, a self-governing territory of Denmark or British Crown Dependencies, such as Guernsey, Jersey, and the Isle of Man.

READ MORE: Norwegian government refuse to comment on possible return of Orkney

Council leader James Stockan told elected members at the meeting on Tuesday that the motion was "not about us joining Norway".

He said: “I have been a councillor now for 20 years, but for the last number I’ve been in negotiation with our governments to get what I believe is an equitable solution of position for the Orkney Islands in funding and in the opportunity that we have in and around these islands to benefit not just us, but to benefit our neighbours, to benefit our nation and to benefit the world.

“But we have been restricted in every conversation, we have been held down, and what I would say is we all know most of what I could say with regard to the discrimination that we’ve had against this community from governments in the funding settlement we have.”

Orkney, he said, receives less funding per head from Government than fellow island authorities in Shetland and the Western Isles.

Closing the debate, the council leader added that if the motion was not passed “we will never get anywhere”.

He added: “For us to get change today, for us to get traction today, for us to be able to engage today for the benefit of our citizens, I’m going to ask you to support this motion.”

Independent councillor Steven Heddle, who is the Vice-President of Scottish council umbrella body, COSLA, warned that any drastic change in governance could mean buying back the sea bed, and tuition fees for students wishing to study in Scotland.

He called Mr Stockan's motion the "politics of grievance."

He added that all Scottish councils felt unfairly treated by central government and said there were roads in Edinburgh that were "worse" than Orkney's.

READ MORE: Explained: Why Orkney won't be joining Norway

Orkney was under Norwegian and Danish control until 1472 when they were handed to James III of Scotland after the Scandinavians failed to pay the balance on the dowry for his marriage to Margaret of Denmark.

Earlier this week, Councillor Stockan told the BBC: “We were part of the Norse kingdom for much longer than we were part of the United Kingdom.

“On the street in Orkney people come up and say to me, ‘when are we going to pay back the dowry, when are we going back to Norway?’

“There is a huge affinity and a huge, deep cultural relationship there.

“This is exactly the moment to explore what is possible.”

Speaking to The Herald, the Norweigan embassy in London said: “This is a domestic and constitutional British matter. We have no view regarding this motion.”

Asked about the motion during Monday’s press conference, the Prime Minister’s official spokesman told reporters: “First and foremost, there is no mechanism for the conferral of crown dependency or overseas territory status on any part of the UK.

“But fundamentally, we are stronger as one United Kingdom, we have no plans to change that.”

The spokesman added: “We’ve got no plans to change the devolution settlement.”

At the meeting, councillors also backed the revival of a consultative group on constitutional reform for the islands.