THERE are concerns that housing developments in Gulberwick will stall after the waste water pump station in the area developed a fault and stopped working.
It is thought that it may take at least two years for a permanent solution to be put in place by utility company Scottish Water.
Building contractors have been told that there will be no new connections for housing until the existing station has either been upgraded or a new one has been built.
Sewage is currently being held in a septic tank as a temporary measure, which is then being removed daily by tankers to the waste water treatment plant in nearby Lerwick.
It is believed that there are no back-up parts for the under-pressure pump system, which takes waste from the popular residential area up the hill into Lerwick.
SEPA visited Gulberwick on Thursday to carry out examinations following concerns that raw sewage had entered the bay after the pumps failed.
The environment protection agency said there was "no visible sign of pollution and that there is no ongoing discharge of untreated sewage into the bay", while Scottish Water insisted on Wednesday that no sewage had entered the sea.
But there is a wider concern about how the pump station issue will be affect new connections to the sewer system.
Local contractor DITT has plans for a 16-house development at Heathery Park but has now learned that building work can't go ahead until a new pumping station or even a treatment plant has been built.
Building firm E&H also has plans for a six-house development lower down the hill and managing director Bobby Elphinstone said it was a "disappointing and unwelcome" turn of events.
Both projects were anticipated to start construction in the spring or summer of next year.
Scottish Water said in a statement that it is working as "quickly as possible" on a "permanent solution" to cater for future growth in Gulberwick.
Elphinstone said if the situation ran on for a couple of years then E&H might have to reapply for planning permission as consent expires after three years.
He questioned why Scottish Water had not already acted on upgrading its pump station, which is thought to have been at capacity for some time following a spate of new builds in the area.
"It's not as if Scottish Water wouldn't have known there would have been further developments in Gulberwick," Elphinstone said.
The building director said a two year timescale sounded likely as the design process for the station would be complicated.
A spokesman for Scottish Water added: "Scottish Water is in dialogue with developers and we are currently looking at what options might be available to help ensure long term growth for the area can be facilitated.
"A permanent solution, which will take into consideration future development, is in the process of being designed and delivered and this will be done as quickly as possible."
It also said that "any effluent discharged at the outfall at this location is fully treated and regulatory compliant."