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Letters / Rural Shetland provides for the centre

The SIC are now into the third decade of conducting consultations on Shetland transport development, and in particular of our inter islands links.

Community asked to share views on transport

 

This follows on after the results from the two previous decades of transport consultations appear to have been dismissed.

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Faber Maunsell, Outcomes of 2nd Consultation Exercise, March 2007: “In short, based on the results of consultation, there was strong support for strengthening the case / commitment for fixed links within the Transport Strategy.”

And: “The opinion was also expressed that many people in Whalsay would prefer to see investment in fixed links to the Mainland, rather than continued expenditure on ferries.”

And from the more recent, Shetland Inter Islands Transport Study (SIITS) from 2016: “The most recent tunnel feasibility work was carried out in 2010 and established the potential for a tunnel as the preferred option.”

Will this latest consultation exercise lead on to a positive development, or will it follow the same procedure as the last two consultations? We can only wait and see.

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However this new consultation exercise will probably keep ZetTrans office staff in employment until at least 2027 or longer before the results will be ready for public distribution.

In the meantime, Shetland’s inter island transport network continues to degrade daily, ferry services and crews have been reduced during the last decade, thus making savings on front line service costs.

Those SIC cost saving measures may have had little effect on the lives of the majority of the Shetland public, unless those savings may have allowed more to be spent on the services throughout Lerwick and the surrounding Shetland mainland.

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How long the SIC can continue to patch and repair the ferry service’s old vessels and terminals, before a catastrophic infrastructure failure renders a ferry service inoperable will remain to be seen. And what will happen then?

It appears to be forgotten within the SIC bubble operating out of Lerwick that much of the economy that sustains Shetland is presently derived from private investment in industries connected to fishing and aquaculture; which is predominantly based in the peripheral regions of our Shetland Islands, sometimes SIC funds need to be spent to enhance the links and infrastructure in those peripheral regions; to keep the local industries economically active.

We all need to be aware that the benefits to the centre cannot continue to be maintained from Shetland’s oil fund alone; that fund will soon get eaten away.

All our industries need to remain economically viable and working for the benefit of the whole of Shetland.

William Polson
Whalsay

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