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All options open for Whalsay ferry

SHETLAND Islands Council may lease a ferry from outside the islands to ease the traffic problems on the Whalsay route.
Adjusting the timetable to have more ferry journeys at peak times in the morning and evening is also being looked at.
Whalsay’s traffic difficulties were further exacerbated on Monday when the Maritime and Coastguard Agency instructed the council to restrict the number of foot passengers on the ferry Linga to 50 because she doesn’t comply with the latest safety standards.
Earlier this year, councillors abandoned plans to invest more than £20 million into new ferries and terminals for Whalsay in favour of developing a long term tunnel vision, leaving the island with a crumbling ferry service.
Whalsay councillor Josie Simpson used Tuesday’s meeting of the infrastructure committee to plead again for the council to address the crisis situation.
He said the closure of the island’s fish factory has only increased the pressure on the ferry route as more people are looking for work outside the island.
And with reference to talks he had with Scottish finance secretary John Swinney last week, he said there was little prospect of sourcing government funding for large capital projects until at least 2025.
“There is a pressing need to do something for Whalsay now,” he said.
Head of transport Michael Craigie told the meeting that his staff were looking into how to alleviate the current situation including leasing a ferry from outwith the isles.
“Everything is being looked at, and all this will be reported to the next ferry board meeting,” he said.