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Community / Caravan facilities could bring boost to Fetlar

PLANS are afoot to create motorhome and caravan facilities in Fetlar for visitors to the ‘Garden of Shetland’ which could boost the island’s tourist appeal as well as make the community hall more sustainable.

Fetlar Community Hall. Photo: Fetlar Community Association

Fetlar Community Association has planning permission to create three bays with electric hook-up points for motorhomes and caravans in the carpark of the island’s public hall.

It also plans to revamp the inside of the hall to provide shower, changing and laundry facilities.

Fetlar Community Association’s Graham Booth said proposal could create a “golden triangle” in the North Isles for caravan and motorhome users, with Yell and Unst already home to facilities.

The total price of the project is nearly £135,000, but the community association – which operates the hall – has already secured most of the cost in funding.

The local LEADER fund has provided £74,205, with Shetland Islands Council and Highlands and Islands Enterprise both stumping up £21,637 each.

The Robertson Trust has also committed £10,000 towards the project.

This leaves the Fetlar Community Association needing to raise just over £7,000 itself.

A number of fundraising events are set to be held in Fetlar, which has a population of 63 at the moment, in the coming months.

RSPB ranger Martha Thomson and Maurice Henderson will bring fiddle music to the island on 26 July.

On 27 July Booth and his wife Ruth will host an open house at the Glebe from 11am to 5pm, with activities, refreshments and a chance to look around the former manse and garden.

There is also set to be a Shetland Arts led music event this summer, as well as a supper night on Saturday 24 August.

All of the upcoming events are open to everyone.

Booth said the proposed facilities would help tourists who already visit Fetlar, as well potentially attract new ones too.

But he added it is also about “trying to improve the facilities at the hall and make it more commercially sustainable in the long term”.

“In a very small community, we have to get some money from outside,” Booth said.

Houbie in Fetlar.

“Having some electric hook-ups for caravans and motorhomes, is part of maybe bringing more people, but actually relieving some of those who do come anyway of some of their well-earned money by offering them some decent facilities.”

There are hopes that the laundry facilities, meanwhile, will be of use to locals too.

“We are trying to put in some decent sized machinery that will wash for example king sized duvets, and most people don’t have that kind of kit in their homes,” Booth added.

It may not just be the hall that will benefit from the facilities, with a potential knock-on effect to other amenities on the island.

“We’re getting an increasing number of people in motorhomes particularly, only the very occasional caravan,” Booth explained.

“If we offer proper facilities it will enable people to stay on the island as opposed to just coming in and going out again, which should make the cafe, the shop and the interpretative centre more commercially viable as well.”