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Business / Motorbike instructor calls it a day as test site moves to Scatsta

Motorcycle and large good vehicles training and testing has been taking place at the old Anderson High School car park. Photo: Shetland Motorbike Training
Motorcycle and large good vehicles training and testing has been taking place at the old Anderson High School car park for many years. Photo: Shetland Motorbike Training

A LOCAL motorbike instructor is set to call time on his business after nearly four decades as a result of Shetland’s test and training site moving from Lerwick to Scatsta Airport.

Shetland Motorbike Training’s Steve Henry said the move was not viable for his business.

It centres around the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) moving the site for off-road motorbike and vocational vehicle tests from the old Anderson High School in Lerwick to Scatsta Airport around 27 miles away.

The move away from the back of the old Anderson was on the cards even before pupils moved out of the school in 2017.

But the DVSA failed to find a suitable site in or around Lerwick, and it has taken on space at the former Scatsta Airport since the start of August.

The DVSA had previously targeted a site near Ladies Drive in Lerwick but that did not come to fruition due to concerns over the cost.

The distance and the logistics around taking vehicles, and learner motorists, to Scatsta for tests or training had frustrated local instructors who used the site at the old Anderson.

It implicates both Shetland Motorbike Training and Drive Shetland, which offers training for vocational vehicles such as lorries.

Drive Shetland’s Petur Petursson also said the move to Scatsta is not viable for his business.

Henry said those wishing to sit CBT, module one or module two motorcycle tests will need to go to the Scottish mainland once his business closes.

His services will cease once he has seen the last of his module two pupils through their tests up to the end of September.

Module one tests involve manoeuvring in an off-road area, like the old Anderson site, while module two are carried out on public roads – usually in Lerwick.

“I would like to give thanks to Alistair Carmichael MP, Petur Petursson – Drive Shetland, and the SIC, who along with myself have fought hard to have a more suitable venue for motorbikes (and trucks), to train and test on,” Henry said on Friday.

“Despite our concerted efforts, the DVSA have not listened.

“I would like to thank all the many hundreds of bikers, who have followed me, or led me…in all weathers…so that they could go on to enjoy motorcycling under their own steam.”

Petursson, meanwhile, said he was “gutted” at the situation, adding that he cannot see how he could viably run his own business under the new set-up.

He said there would be far more lost time for his business due to travel, as well as mileage and expenses, while he questioned what welfare facilities would be on offer.

The instructor has been involved in the sector for more than 20 years but he believes his time may be up. “Shetland deserves better,” he said.

Orkney and Shetland MP Carmichael, meanwhile, has been involved in talks between the DVSA and training companies since the issue arose a few years ago.

He is due to meet with the DVSA again next week to discuss the matter.

Petursson paid tribute to Carmichael’s role in negotiations with the DVSA, saying he has “fought tooth and nail” for both training businesses.

Scatsta closed as an oil and gas airport last year, but it is open to other uses. Rocket engine testing, for example, has been taking place on an area of land there.

The DVSA said its “continued priority has always been to provide our customers with a continued testing service on the Shetland Isles whilst balancing costs”.

“We have worked closely with the local authority and have agreed to use a new site at Scatsta Airport to provide motorcycle and lorry tests,” they added.

“These tests will be available to book from 1 August 2021.”