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Council / Linkspan replacement scheme affected by rise in cost of steel

One of the new deck panels being lowered onto the frame of the Vidlin linkspan in April this year. Photo: SIC

THE COUNCIL programme to replace linkspans at inter-island ferry terminals will cost £120,000 more than previously expected due to increases in the price of steel.

It comes after the planned linkspan replacement at Symbister in Whalsay was postponed to 2022 due to delays in the supply of materials, while there was also a winter weather risk.

Shetland Islands Council port infrastructure manager Andrew Inkster told a meeting of the harbour board on Wednesday that the local authority’s budget has been reprofiled as a result.

But he said there was no extra cost in terms of the contractor Malakoff.

The £3.75 million programme has already seen linkspans replaced in Skerries and Vidlin.

Lerwick councillor Amanda Hawick expressed concern at rising costs of material – with reports of the price of building a house up threefold.

The life extension project for the council’s 13 terminal linkspans – the pieces of machinery which act as a drawbridge to allow vehicles on and off ferries – was approved back in 2017.

Meanwhile Inkster confirmed that a portacabin facility will be brought to the Whalsay ferry terminal following concerns of the lack of accessible toilets there.

A similar solution could be used for the Grutness ferry terminal in the south mainland.

South mainland member Allison Duncan encouraged officers to do things “as quickly as possible” as more people are using the facilities at Grutness after public toilets near the Sumburgh Hotel were closed.