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Community / First turf cut at Asta caravan park site

Work on the facility could be completed in spring next year

Cutting the turf, from left to right: Phil Morris (SQC), Andrew Blackadder (Scalloway Community Development Company, or SCDC), Sally Spence (Shetland Islands Council economic development), Colin Sim (Malcolmson Architects), Davie Sandison (SCDC), Arthur Williamson (SCDC), Steve Mathieson (VisitScotland), Mark Burgess (SCDC), Mhari McLeman (Highlands and Islands Enterprise), John Hunter (SCDC), Maurice Henderson (SIC economic development), Sarah Kay (SCDC), John Mackenzie (SCDC). All photos: Shetland News

TAKE a drive through the Tingwall valley and you will see work is well underway on a new caravan park and campsite at Asta.

On Monday the formal turf cutting took place by those involved in the project – although with most of the ground dug up already, there was not much of the green stuff to dig into.

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The project is being led by the Scalloway Development Company, and the main contractor on site is SQC Plant.

It will feature spots for caravans and motorhomes, tent spaces and a few wigwams, and the hope is to complete the work in April – paving the way for the summer season.

The project, which will cost £600,000, has secured sizeable funding to enable it to go ahead, with the Scottish Government’s rural tourism infrastructure fund providing the most – £375,000. This fund is run by VisitScotland.

Money has also come from Highlands and Islands Enterprise (£133,754), the Crown Estate fund (nearly £100,000), Shetland Islands Council’s economic development service and the isles’ community benefit fund.

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The hope is that the Asta facility could go some way to filling the gap created in the central mainland by the closure of the Lerwick campsite at the Clickimin in 2014.

Scalloway Development Company’s Davie Sandison said he was “absolutely delighted” to progress work on site.

He described it as a “long haul” to get things to their current stage.

The group’s Andrew Blackadder added that the increase in the cost of materials had also affected the project.

“It’s been quite a rollercoaster over a long period of time, because we’ve had so many sorts of setbacks – particularly with the costs rising,” he said.

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“The cost of everything now seems to be so much more. It’s just gone through the roof.”

The proposed site. Image: Scalloway Community Development Company/Malcolmson Architects/Shetland Islands Council

The hope is that the facility will be used both by tourists and locals – with the location likely to bring a boost to nearby businesses.

“I think there’s quite a lot of potential for this sort of thing – not just for tourists but for local people to take advantage of as well,” Sandison said.

“Lots of additionality shall we say – businesses in Scalloway should do well out of the footfall as well.”

“The facility is to encourage and bring more visitors into the area, and more people into Scalloway to spend money,” Blackadder added.

“But it’s also for use by local folk as well. The site is excellent from that point of view.”

Mhari McLeman, head of strengthening communities for HIE in Shetland, said: “Tourism is one of our key industries in Shetland and our communities perform a vital role in the delivery of assets and services to support this sector.

“This is an excellent example of a community led tourism infrastructure project that will boost the local economy, support jobs and strengthen community resilience whilst enhancing Shetland’s wider tourism offering too. We are really pleased to provide support and look forward to the new site taking shape.”

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