Planning for Shetland’s future

SHETLANDERS are being asked to take part in a major consultation to determine the islands’ future.

The local authority, together with a wide range of other organisations, has launched an online questionnaire to gauge people’s views on Shetland’s strengths and weaknesses, and how these will impact on the isles’ prospects for the future.


The Imagining Shetland’s Futures survey is part of a “process of scenario planning”, designed to refresh the existing community plan drawn up seven years ago.

It also recognises the world has radically changed over the last few years, with the global financial crisis, much tighter public sector budgets, the Total gas plant and high speed telecommunication links.

During a brief presentation on Tuesday, council chief executive Alistair Buchan said public services faced an “absolutely horrendous” situation, emphasising the need for accurate future planning “to get the maximum out of very pound”.

Garry Bowman, of St Andrew’s based PM Associates, said that interviews with various sectors of the community were already under way.


Those would join the responses to the survey to form his analysis of the key issues facing the isles.

These would then be played out in scenario planning workshops to determine where islanders should focus their attention over the next 10 to 15 years, he said.

“This isn’t a council process. It is a Shetland-wide process. We are engaging with as many people as we can to get as wide a flavour as possible for issues affecting Shetland.

“Representatives from the fishing industry are given as much weight as migrant workers or members of the local youth group”.


He said this process of data collection and scenario planning was extensively used by local and national government, and was more about “long-term thinking”.

The whole process will be overseen by a steering group of 17 members from the public and private sector.

Dougie Stevenson, of marine engineers Malakoff who have been involved in the process from day one, said that in the past community planning had regularly ignored the private sector.

“This seems not to be happening in this case. It is important for the younger generation to buy into this. There has been a lot of scepticism, but the private sector is being consulted,” he said.

The scenario planning e-survey is available at

It is also available by writing to Scenario Planning, Town Hall, Upper Hillhead , Lerwick, or calling 01595 743 728.

The six questions are:

1. What is the key strength of Shetland?

2. What is the main weakness of Shetland?

3. What is the key aspect of Shetland’s culture that differentiates it from other islands?

4. What are three key features of a positive future

5. What are three key features of a negative future?

6. What should Shetland do now to achieve a positive future?

The steering group consists of: Dougie Stevenson, Malakoff; Michael Laurenson, Blueshell Marine; Drew Ratter, agriculture sector; Sandra Laurenson, Lerwick Port Authority and decommissioning sector; Catherine Hughson, Voluntary Action Shetland; Ann Black, Shetland Charitable Trust; councillors Josie Simpson, Betty Fullerton and Allan Wishart; council managers Hazel Sutherland, Neil Grant and Alistair Buchan; NHS Shetland board members Ralphs Roberts, Ian Kinniburgh and Sarah Taylor; and Shetland’s members of the Scottish Youth Parliament Emily Shaw and Nicole Moaut.