News / Wishart left disappointed by government programme

MSP keen to see more on broadband, Fair Isle ferry, fixed links and transport costs

LOCAL MSP Beatrice Wishart has claimed there is a “lack of ambition” for Shetland in the Scottish Government’s newly published priorities for the year ahead.

She criticised an absence of acknowledgement in the Programme of Government 2020/21 on the lack of progress for bringing superfast broadband to all parts of Shetland – as well as no sign of funding for a replacement Fair Isle ferry.

Liberal Democrat Wishart also said she was disappointed there was no acceptance of the “financial and environmental sense behind exploring fixed links in Shetland”.

Speaking remotely in the Scottish Parliament on Wednesday, Wishart said: “Basic asks, that Shetlanders have been calling for years, went completely unacknowledged once again.

“A Scotland wide tech revolution is exciting and could be transformational but there was no acknowledgement that the R100 programme is two years behind, and that rollout in the highlands and islands is on the brink.


“The people in Foula and Skerries would be delighted to have a boost to their digital capability – they don’t even get a basic broadband service never mind superfast.

“I note the headline ‘supporting local economies’ but there was no sign of funding for the replacement of the 34-year old Good Shepherd, the ferry that serves the community of Fair Isle and its economy.

“A ‘green recovery’ was another headline, but there was no acceptance of the financial and environmental sense behind exploring fixed links in Shetland.”

Shetland MSP Beatrice Wishart: ‘So it was discouraging, but not surprising, to then see the islands batted around once again’. Photo: Shetland News

Wishart added that after last year’s Scottish Parliament by-election, in which a number of SNP politicians and campaigners visited the isles, she thought the party would be “well acquainted with the sky-high cost of travel to the islands – as their election return made clear, it is not cheap”.

Become a supporter of Shetland News


“So it was discouraging, but not surprising, to then see the islands batted around once again over fair funding for the internal ferry service in this year’s budget negotiations,” she continued.

“The programme doesn’t take that any further forward.

“For visitors looking for a holiday, paying eye watering sums is difficult enough – and that is no help to the islands’ tourism industry. But for islanders, who need to travel to the mainland to access the basic services that others take for granted, it is not just difficult – it is stifling.

“So these costs are not just part and parcel of living in the islands. They are the result of years and years of choices by a government that prefers to look elsewhere.”


There was no direct response from the Scottish Government on the points she raised during the debate of the programme for government.

One thing that was included in the government programme which could have a direct impact on Shetland was the intention to establish a £2 million Green Recovery Programme for Scotland’s islands.

First minister Nicola Sturgeon said the initiative would open in October to help deliver on the government’s low carbon related commitments.

“This will include specific ring fenced funding for capital projects on islands relating to net zero and green recovery objectives, creating high quality, skilled, green jobs in some of our most remote and vulnerable communities,” the government said.

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.