The Shetland Islands Council have been conducting transport studies and consultations regarding transport links to our Northern Isles for more than two decades and have presented their reports and conclusions to the Scottish Government to help them to make the correct decisions on the development and running of our inter islands transport links.
Michael Craigie was reported in the media to be working on a report on why the government needs to reconsider their approach to tunnels.
“Craigie said it is not that the council does not want to build fixed links. The job at hand right now, however, was to overcome existing “bureaucratic barriers.”
However some of the reports and conclusions the SIC officers have presented over the years will have been less than helpful in persuading the government that fixed links were the cheaper option.
In 2010 reports were presented claiming to show that ferries were the cheaper option, even over a period of 120 years.
A freedom of information request showed that, the comparisons of costs for ferry services against tunnel costs used 2002 ferry figures in the comparison against 2010 tunnel costs.
A statement in the SIITS report claimed that it was cheaper to run ferries for sixty years than running tunnels, the ferry cost figures from Yell sound for 2015/16 were recorded at £5.8 million in the same report, which does not compare favourably to the estimated annual cost of running a tunnel on the Yell crossing; based on annual tunnel running costs in Norway, that cost would have been less than a tenth of the ferries cost.
It should also be noted that the latest ferries running costs figures released by the SIC, showed an increase of around 40 per cent from the 2015/16 figure.
I have read many reports on transport presented to the Shetland Islands councillors and Scottish Government over the past two decades, and after viewing the claims and fluctuating cost estimates mentioned for various transport projects, I have reached the conclusion that the SIC may be employing some of the most prolific authors of fiction in the country.
We have been told that Michael Craigie is compiling his next report on the woes of Shetland’s inter island transport links and perhaps he may mention who he thinks should shoulder the blame for the bureaucratic barriers holding up progress towards the construction of fixed links, considering his experience of service of more than two decades in the SIC transport department, it should be a compelling read.