Business / Jarlshof car park congestion set to continue

Jarlshof. Photo: Historic Environment Scotland

MUCH NEEDED coach parking facilities as well as toilets for visitors to the historic site at Jarlshof in Shetland’s south mainland are unlikely to be built any time soon after the Scottish Government rejected a business case for the project.

With Shetland experiencing an unprecedented boom in the cruise liner business, as many as ten coaches can be visiting the famous site at the same time on busy days.

The congestion is regularly not only overwhelming the historic sit,  but also the nearby Sumburgh Hotel which owns the car park facilities currently used by tour operators.

Thanks to an agreement with the hotel owners, visitors from cruise liners can use the hotel’s toilets but that situation has increasingly become untenable due to the sheer numbers of users preventing the hotel from functioning properly on days a large cruise ship is in Lerwick Harbour.

A compromise that allows no more than four coaches into the hotel car park at any one time has been reached for this summer, but all parties acknowledge that this can not be a long-term solution.

Shetland MSP Tavish Scott

Plans to build a large car park and toilet facilities on a nearby field have so far not progressed.

In the Scottish Parliament on Thursday local MSP Tavish Scott sought answers from the government as to what progress has been made.

But all junior minister Ben Macpherson was able to provide in response was to say that all parties were recognising the importance of the issue, and that talks were ongoing but legal issues meant details could not be provided.

A business case for the project had been rejected by cabinet secretary Fiona Hyslop last December, a move Scott described as “very disappointing”.

Scott said: “The government’s delay in finding a solution is not good enough. The tourism industry and local businesses have raised problems regarding lack of visitor facilities for years.

Become a supporter of Shetland News


“Another tourist season cannot be allowed to pass without any progress. This would not have dragged as it has were we talking about a location in the central belt.

“Jarlshof is a world class site and it is embarrassing that the government isn’t doing more to develop the most basic of amenities.”

In a letter to the cabinet secretary, Scott continued: “You will know that my office submitted an FOI request regarding the communication between the Scottish Government and Historic Environment Scotland on the matter.

“From the information received I cannot help but assume that the decision making process would have been entirely different had the site been located in the central belt.

“It is unacceptable that a private business continues to voluntarily provide parking and toilet services for visitors at a site of such national importance.

“Being told, as I was today, that there is a legal issue after three years of absolutely nothing happening, does not fill me with any confidence that the government are committed to getting this matter resolved.”

Last year Jarlshof recorded a record year with 23,000 people visiting the site.

Become a supporter of Shetland News

Shetland News is asking its many readers to consider start paying for their dose of the latest local news delivered straight to their PC, tablet or mobile phone.

Journalism comes at a price and because that price is not being paid in today’s rapidly changing media world, most publishers - national and local - struggle financially despite very healthy audience figures.

Most online publishers have started charging for access to their websites, others have chosen a different route. Shetland News currently has  over 600 supporters  who are all making small voluntary financial contributions. All funds go towards covering our cost and improving the service further.

Your contribution will ensure Shetland News can: -

  • Bring you the headlines as they happen;
  • Stay editorially independent;
  • Give a voice to the community;
  • Grow site traffic further;
  • Research and publish more in-depth news, including more Shetland Lives features.

If you appreciate what we do and feel strongly about impartial local journalism, then please become a supporter of Shetland News by either making a single payment or monthly subscription.

Support us from as little as £3 per month – it only takes a minute to sign up. Thank you.



Subscribe to a selection of different newsletters from Shetland News, varying from breaking news delivered on the minute, to a weekly round-up of the opinion posts. All delivered straight to your inbox.

Daily Briefing Newsletter Weekly Highlights Newsletter Opinion Newsletter Life in Shetland Newsletter

JavaScript Required

We're sorry, but Shetland News isn't fully functional without JavaScript enabled.
Head over to the help page for instructions on how to enable JavaScript on your browser.

Your Privacy

We use cookies on our site to improve your experience.
By using our service, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Cookie Policy.

Browser is out-of-date

Shetland News isn't fully functional with this version of .
Head over to the help page for instructions on updating your browser for more security, improved speed and the best overall experience on this site.

Interested in Notifications?

Get notifications from Shetland News for important and breaking news.
You can unsubscribe at any time.

Become a supporter of Shetland News

We're committed to ensuring everyone has equitable access to impartial, open and quality local journalism that benefits all residents.

By supporting Shetland News, you play a vital role in ensuring we remain a pivotal resource in supporting the community.

Support us from as little as £3 per month – it only takes a minute to sign up. Thank you.