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Letters / ‘Which report would you believe?’

It must be very difficult for a SIC councillor to make decisions based on advice from their officials’ reports, as it appears they might never know which face some SIC officials will be wearing from day to day.

During the past two decades, SIC officialdom appear to have tried to convince us that building and running ferry services is cheaper than building and running fixed links, however not all of us were convinced.

The last inter Island ferries upgrade in Shetland was in Yell Sound, SIC figures show it cost nearly twice the officials pre-construction estimate to build and ended up being a third more expensive to build than the Norwegians estimate for the construction of a tunnel.

During the past two decades SIC officials have advised the councillors, to favour the construction of a similar ferry service upgrade for the Whalsay routes, including one or two new bigger ferries; thus increasing the running costs and carbon output.

A report also included a proposal to reduce the runs from 18 a day down to 8, which I assume would only require one ferry on the route, which with a larger ferry would still appear to increase the present carbon footprint and running costs.

While the officials have advised against 3 offers, including funding and a Quote, for the construction of a fixed link to Whalsay which would have allowed unrestricted access to and from the Isle 24/7.

Perhaps if a duty of honesty was included in the Code of Conduct for SIC employees, the minority who appear to tarnish the reputation of the whole SIC, may be forced to produce more credible reports.

SIC documents, some of which procured from consultants outwith the SIC; appear to show that the proposed tunnel would reduce the SIC annual ferries running costs and carbon footprint, showing the tunnel could be run at roughly a tenth of the cost of running the proposed larger ferries on the Whalsay route.

Now some officials appear to be advising in a report, www.shetland.gov.uk/documents/KeyCarbonReductionActions2020.pdf  to reduce Shetland’s carbon output, with one of the proposals being believe it or not, the construction of fixed links.

If you were a Councillor which report would you believe?

These are my personal observations and have not been shared with other members of the Whalsay Community Council.

William Polson

Scottish Parliament election, 6 May 2021