So the SIC have concluded that raising £500 million to link-up the North Isles and Bressay with tunnels is unaffordable for the Shetland community. On the other hand they have no problem with Shetland Charitable Trust raising £500 million, which is their half of the cost of £1000 million needed to construct Viking Energy windfarm.
Which will bring the greatest community benefits; ferries, industrial windfarms or tunnels?
With reduced funding from an intransigent government, our inter-island ferry service is heading for increased fares and reduced services irrespective of who runs them, the SIC or the Scottish Government. Continuing with ferries will lead to further depopulation and economic run-down of the North Isles.
Proponents of windfarms guesstimate an income to the community of up to £2 million per year; an income that is subsidy based and carries no guarantees with it.
Up to means any sum over just £1 with no guarantee that subsidy will continue, that private windfarm companies will remain solvent, or that the Charitable Trust’s £500 million ‘investment’ will be protected. When energy companies go bust, and many do, it is the communities and the consumers that are always the biggest losers.
Just to give an idea of the scale of the project, the cost of building just Viking windfarm alone is twice that of the tunnels. No amount of income can compensate the community for the environmental destruction that the proliferation of industrial windfarms across Shetland will cause to our fragile landscape.
Compared to industrial windfarms, building and operating tunnels will have much less environmental impact. For the same money as the Charitable Trust will spend on the Viking windfarm we can have tunnels linking Unst, Yell, Whalsay and Bressay. Tunnels will reverse depopulation and encourage investment. If Shetland wants guaranteed community benefits we should fund and build these fixed links.