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Letters / A UNESCO designation too many

Regarding the UNESCO World Heritage bid by Shetland Amenity Trust (Work continuing on World Heritage bid; SN, 14/12/2018), Shetland already has a hard won UNESCO designation – Shetland is a UNESCO Global Geopark, which is a parallel designation of equal status to a World Heritage designation.

Instead of wasting time and money starting the whole process over again the plans for the sites of Old Scatness, Jarlshof and Mousa should be combined under the Shetland UNESCO Global Geopark banner.

One of the highlights of Shetland’s application to become a Geopark back in 2005 was Old Scatness, then operating at its brilliant best. In my early days as a tour guide my guests often told me that Old Scatness was better that Jarlshof, and that Jarlshof was better than Orkney’s Skara Brae.

Subsequently Old Scatness was starved of funds and got no promotion as a tourist site by Shetland Amenity Trust through Promote Shetland so was allowed to close and fall into a disgraceful decay.

As far as plans for increasing tourism is concerned, visitor experience is that Jarlshof is often found to be an overcrowded site with no facilities.

Mousa too is probably near visitor capacity allowing for the fact that it is weather dependant. Old Scatness, which has been starved of funding, is partly open one day a week during the summer.

There is in fact every issue with the Old Scatness site. Instead of looking for second UNESCO designation, money would be better spent upgrading Old Scatness back to a first class visitor attraction to take the overcrowding strain off Jarlshof.

Allen Fraser
Hamnavoe