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Last Updated: Friday, 2 November 2007, 21:34 GMT
Island ownership accord 'closer'
Rockall is only 100ft wide and 70ft high
Rockall is only 100ft wide and 70ft high
Agreement on who owns the island of Rockall may be a step closer according to Irish diplomats after talks in Copenhagen.

Four countries lay claim to the rock 200 miles off the Irish coast, and to the possible huge oil and gas reserves surrounding it.

Rockall is only 100ft wide and 70ft high.

However, underneath it lies a massive subsea landmass, the Rockall Hatton basin, five times the size of Ireland.

Four nations claim ownership - more importantly for the huge oil and gas reserves it could contain.

BBC NI Dublin correspondent Diarmaid Fleming said: "A United Nations law deems that claims to subsea landmasses connected to national territory must be lodged by 2009.

"After talks between British, Irish, Danish and Icelandic officials in Copenhagen on Friday, Irish diplomats said they had tabled a compromise to divide the seabed by four and said British and Danish negotiators were receptive to the plan.

Four nations claim ownership
Four nations claim ownership

"Iceland is reluctant to agree, but more talks are due in Dublin early next year."

The earliest recorded landing on Rockall was in 1810, by an officer called Basil Hall from the HMS Endymion.

Its exact position was first charted by Royal Navy surveyor Captain ATE Vidal in 1831.

In 1972, the Isle of Rockall Act was passed, which claimed to make the rock officially part of Inverness-shire, Scotland.

But the rights to any resources discovered on the ocean floor surrounding the island is disputed between Britain, Ireland, Denmark and Iceland.

Rockall is probably most famous in the UK for being an area in BBC Radio Four's shipping forecast.

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