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Letters / Sella Ness camp was short-term and temporary

Dorothy O’Brien is very much entitled to express her thoughts and views on the recent decision to challenge an extension to the temporary planning permission for Sella Ness (‘Shetland-centricness’; SN, 3 March 2020).

However, a couple of points she made were factually incorrect.

The Moorfield Hotel was built to provide accommodation for personnel working at Shetland Gas Plant once construction had been completed.  For 18 months all bedrooms at the hotel were occupied by the gas plant personnel.

Ms O’Brien writes that she can’t understand why the hotel did not set aside a few rooms for visitor bookings. I can confirm that from 2015 there have been up to 20 rooms available for the general public. We have warmly welcomed many guests to stay with us, but seldom sold every single room so rooms were most definitely available in our hotel and in others in the area.

Our Shetland Gas Plant guests have not “mostly gone”, they still stay with us at the hotel. What has changed is the purpose of Sella Ness.

I started working at Sella Ness as deputy general manager in 2011, just after it opened. I, along with all other hotel services employees was employed on a temporary contract until 2014.

The reason for this was that Sella Ness was a short term, temporary facility. It was constructed with the remit of housing personnel building the gas plant. Once the gas plant was open and operational it would be dismantled, and the site restored to its former condition. We all knew and understood this from day one of working there.

Ms O’Brien hopes our hotel owner’s challenge fails. I don’t share this opinion. As well as looking after gas plant personnel, the hotel employs in the region of 45 local staff and uses local suppliers for almost everything.

We welcome the public every day to stay with us or enjoy food and beverage whilst relaxing and taking in the stunning views. We host a really popular Alzheimer Shetland Memory Lane cafe every month, and work closely with the local schools to offer work placements and training opportunities.

The hotel and its guests support local charities like Dogs against Drugs, Ability Shetland and Mind Your Head; we hold many fundraising events and support Shetland businesses.

I believe the reporters’ decision is flawed and based too heavily on unsecured “potential” demand for accommodation that may never materialise. Sella Ness was built for construction workers. These construction workers have now gone, so Sella Ness should go too.

Ailsa Sangster
General manager
The Moorfield Hotel