Worries over ‘log jam’ of planning applications

Lerwick Town Hall. Photo: Shetland NewsLerwick Town Hall. Photo: Shetland News

A SHORTAGE of staff is creating a “log jam” of planning applications locally, according to the chairman of Shetland Islands Council’s planning committee.

Theo Smith warned members of the policy and resources committee on Monday that the construction industry is becoming frustrated with the time it is taking to process applications.

He raised the issue as the committee gave its backing to an economic development strategy for the next four years.

Smith suggested the apparent problem with planning staff could have a knock-on effect to the economy.

“My concern is regarding what’s nearly becoming our inability to process planning applications timeously,” he said.

“We as a council have to do something about this and I think we will need to think outside of the box.”

Smith questioned if work could begin to be “farmed out” to consultants in an effort to get the “log jam” cleared.

Council leader Steven Coutts said it was a “point well made” by Smith.

North mainland councillor Alastair Cooper said it was not just a local issue, however, calling it something of a “national crisis”.

The economic development strategy aims to see 250 new private sector jobs created in Shetland by 2022.

At last week’s development committee meeting chairman Alastair Cooper expressed his disappointment that local industries did not get involved in the document’s consultation phase.

But he told the policy and resources committee that after his comments were reported in the local media, some industry representatives had been in touch to express a willingness to engage more in the future.