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Letters / Flawed tunnel report

The Shetland Inter Island Transport Study (SIITS) report is a transport report that was presented to the Scottish Government in 2016/17 and included a ‘Fixed Link Working Paper –Supplement – “Bottom- Up” Cost-Estimates’ produced by Donaldson’s Associates.

The tunnel prices for the Whalsay route started at £86 million and have been reported at £160.4 million to £266.6 million, however at the end of that report there’s the following statement.

“The results of this 2016 project specific bottom-up construction cost-estimate exercise has indicated that the indices published by RICS, as used in the November 2015 cost updating process, were overly pessimistic and led to an overestimate in construction cost.”

The difference between the UK and Norwegian construction cost-estimates can be attributed to a number of reasons, which include things as diverse as recent exchange rate discounts following Brexit, to greater efficiencies in tunnelling in Norway construction realised by the availability of small highly multi-skilled workforce.

This would appear to show that they state that their tunnel figures are flawed.

Those figures have been used in reports that might have persuaded the Councillors that tunnels are unaffordable, whereas in contrast; figures also presented in the Shetland Inter Island Transport Study, appear to show that it would cost over £500 million pounds more to run ferries on the Whalsay and Yell routes for 60 years; than it would cost to run tunnels for 60 years.

Its very basic maths, using 2015/16 running costs 60 X £9.2 million = £552 million minus 60 X £350,000 = £21 million X 2 = £42 million.

The most recent price and the only quote that has been presented to the SIC and Scottish Government for the construction of a tunnel in Shetland, that included all of the road links to the tunnel was for £76 million presented in 2017.

It is our view that due to the use of these apparently flawed figures and statements in the report, the SITTS documents should be declared to be flawed and should be withdrawn by the SIC and Transport Scotland for use as a reference guide for future lifeline transport links in Shetland.

Ellie Simpson
On behalf of Whalsay Community Council