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Cash for college and Fetlar pier

MORE THAN £2 million of European funding is coming to Shetland to help expand the Lerwick campus of Shetland College and build a pier to help revive the fortunes of the isle of Fetlar.

Shetland College is to receive £1.8 million towards the cost of building a third phase of the campus, which will see an extra 1,300 square metres of teaching and social space created at the Gremista site.

The funding from the European Regional Development Fund meets 40 per cent of the cost of the project, and the college has just three months to raise a further £2.7 million.

Director George Smith said that he was in talks with Shetland Islands Council, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, the Scottish Funding Council and the council’s property arm SLAP to find the rest of the cash.

Mr Smith said the college is labouring in cramped quarters where 130 full time and more than 1,000 part time students have no social space outside the canteen and the library, while hospitality students are based at the Bruce Hostel across town and textile students have no room to exhibit their work.

A recent feasibility study highlighted the need for more space and suggested pedestrianising the central thoroughfare through the college grounds. Plans are for a two storey link building connecting the two existing buildings.

The college wants to build on its successful contemporary textile course taking it to honours degree level and to improve the appearance of the campus with a bit of landscaping.

Mr Smith said: “We have seen a huge commitment from our funding partners and I would be asking them to continue that commitment to provide a college that would take us well into this century.”

Meanwhile the prospects of a pier and breakwater to boost the island of Fetlar have come a step closer with the award of £300,000 towards the £3 million project.

Europe had already granted the cash to Shetland Islands Council, but the money was lost last year when the plans fell off the authority’s capital programme.

Local councillor Laura Baisley said she hoped that work could get underway this year. “This is excellent news. We had this money before and lost it because we didn’t get it used in time. I hope this time it will go towards the project it’s intended for,” she said.

The plan is for a concrete deck pier for small boats with a 32 metre berthing face with a minimum water depth of three metres, a 40 metre long slipway, and a 100 metre access road. The project will complement the council’s plans for a 200 metre breakwater, which will protect the ferry terminal and pier.

The project should create up to 15 construction jobs and a full time post for a harbour master, while creating new opportunities for fishing and aquaculture businesses to be based on the island.

It is thought the site could attract up to 30 visiting yachts and two small cruise ships every year, bringing additional income to the island’s tourism and craft businesses and creating further employment opportunities.

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