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Community / Health board and transport partnership back small islands plan

Fair Isle. Photo: Chris Cope/Shetland News

A PLAN which identifies priorities for the future of outlying islands such as Fair Isle, Foula and Papa Stour and aims to improve lives in Shetland’s most remote communities has been given the thumbs up by the local health board and transport partnership.

The Shetland’s Islands with Small Populations Locality Plan has already been given approval from Shetland Islands Council.

The plan covering Fair Isle, Fetlar, Foula, Papa Stour and Skerries stemmed from the Islands with Small Populations Project, which was formed amid concern over declining population numbers.

It culminated in an event in Lerwick last year which brought together folk from the outlying islands to allow representatives of the communities to “share experiences, discuss priorities and look for shared priorities”.

The plan, developed by the multi-agency Shetland Partnership, got an airing at a meeting of the NHS Shetland board on Tuesday.

Public health principal Elizabeth Robinson said it had been an “exercise in listening”.

“I think there are some significant anxieties among some of the island populations,” she said.

In terms of concerns over healthcare presented from island communities, Robinson said the board should listen closely.

“I think we should hear those because they are strongly felt,” she said.

The plan also went up in front of members of transport partnership ZetTrans on Wednesday.

Lead officer Michael Craigie said the concerns from islanders regarding transport came as no surprise to officials and councillors.

“It was already on the radar so to speak,” he said.

Board chairman councillor Ryan Thomson said connectivity was “imperative” to the prosperity of the islands.