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Transport / At least one tunnel within next decade, transport chairman predicts

“I GENUINELY believe at least one tunnel will be built in Shetland within 10 years.”

That is the view of Shetland Islands Council’s transport committee chairman Ryan Thomson, who reckons a decade is a “realistic timeframe”.

The idea of tunnels for some of Shetland’s most populated islands – such as the North Isles and Whalsay – has gained political traction among some in recent months and years.

But their high cost means the council could not go ahead with building a tunnel on its own.

Shetland’s transport partnership ZetTrans, which is also chaired by Thomson, opened up two surveys this week designed to collate the views of the community on future connectivity.

Councillor Ryan Thomson.

The feedback will be used to inform a new transport strategy for Shetland covering the next two decades.

It is the latest consultation on transport in Shetland – and there was some frustration on social media that there is talk but no action.

But North Isles councillor Thomson said fixed links, like tunnels, will not come without things like transport strategies.

He believes a link between Unst and Yell would be the best bet for Shetland’s first tunnel.

Thomson added though that the proposed transport strategy “goes into far more than fixed links”.

“There are islands such as Skerries, Fair Isle, Foula, Fetlar, not to mention Mainland Shetland, who won’t directly be affected by fixed links, but will be by other things such as bus services and air services but to name a few,” Thomson said.

The councillor said it was his view that at least one tunnel will be built in Shetland within the next decade.

“It’s important,” Thomson said, “but there are other important factors to consider when improving transport in Shetland. And talking to communities is essential to doing just that.”