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Fishermen call for HNP dispute to be resolved

The HNP building on Lerwick's Commercial Road.

SHETLAND’S fishing industry has stepped into the simmering row over the future of Lerwick engineering firm HNP calling for a “rapid resolution” of the dispute.

The Shetland Fishermen’s Association (SFA) said that it would be bad for the industry if Shetland was to lose one of its major marine engineering firms at a time when the fleet was expanding.

HNP is currently fighting an eviction order from landlords SLAP, the property arm of Shetland Charitable Trust.

HNP owns the building they work in, but SLAP are selling the land on which it stands to Chester-based property developer Cityheart to build a student accommodation block.

They turned down an offer from HNP to purchase the land, having spent the previous 18 months trying to encourage the company to find new premises.

HNP says none of the suggested alternative sites would be suitable for the business.

Last week a petition with almost 1,300 signatures was handed in to the charitable trust and SLAP calling for HNP calling for them to halt the eviction notice.

On Friday Shetland fishermen joined the fray, calling on both party’s to settle their differences.

SFA executive officer Simon Collins said: “At a time when our fishing fleet is expanding and modernising, the last thing we need is the loss of engineering capacity and ancillary services onshore.

“We can take no view on the argument between HNP and SLAP, which is of course a matter for them. But we have a very strong view on what is needed to keep a vibrant and dynamic fleet here in Shetland, and losing marine engineers is not part of that picture.

“We urge both sides to come together in the best interests of Shetland plc, and sooner rather than later.”

HNP managing director Ian Walterson said he could not comment because the matter was in the hands of the firm’s solicitors.

SLAP also had no comment to make.