THE CHAIRMAN of Shetland Islands Council’s environment and transport committee has reiterated the benefits of fixed links after the Yell Sound ferry route suffered more disruption.
Ryan Thomson, who is a councillor for the North Isles, believes there is a “real need for fixed links in Shetland” in the future as ongoing technical issues hamper connectivity to Yell, Unst and Fetlar.
The Yell Sound route will again be reduced to a single vessel service with the Daggri from Thursday (6 June) because its sister ship Dagalien has been delayed in returning to Shetland after developing engine cooling issues while south for a refit.
It is understood that engineers are struggling to find the reason behind the ongoing problem on Dagalien, which was due back in Shetland on Monday.
The Bressay ferry Leirna meanwhile has to leave for the Fraserburgh dry dock for her annual service, meaning that relief vessel Fivla – which was serving the Yell route in Dagalien’s absence – needs to cover the Bressay service.
It comes after the Fivla was taken out of service on Yell Sound briefly at the end of May due to a fault, with services then also reduced to a single vessel.
Last month sailings in the North Isles were also disrupted after a fire in the engine room of the Yell ferry Daggri, with the Dagalien again out of service on its refit at the time.
Thomson said the ferry crews are again “being asked to do a very challenging role due to the fragility of our service”, adding that they will run shuttle services at peak times where possible.
“Over the next few months, I will have an opportunity with ZetTrans and the SIC as key stakeholders to press forward the real need for fixed links in Shetland for the future in the National Strategic Transport Projects Review 2, which is the first ever Scotland wide multi model appraisal for transport,” he added.
“This is a Scotland-wide appraisal of future transport interventions along with infrastructure and it will deliver a 20-year plan for transport investment, which compliments the already ongoing National Transport Strategy.
“Politically, I will always continue to press the socioeconomic, financial and environmental benefits of fixed links within our islands. Alongside this however, we work hard to make sure we are able to deliver a fully funded, reliable and adequate ferry service for all our islands. This is essential to our islands, our islanders and our economy.”