Letters / Difficult full-time job ahead

The reports from Ukraine illustrate man’s inhumanity to man, people forced to flee, some even murdered leaving behind land devoid of anything, made refugees by their own neighbours.

Horrendous – it reminds us of WW2. Never again it was said and Shetlanders rightly gathered at the Market Cross to show their support and make donations for these very unfortunate people.

Has it happened before? The Highland and Shetland Clearances perhaps a reminder – surely not.

However I wonder how many of those gathered at da Cross know of Shetland’s own history? Cast a look around, see the ley-rigs lying void, the steids of long-gone houses, deserted townships, the remains of mansions and castles of greedy lairds and ministers. Therein lie many stories.

More subtle and slow as in the Ukraine case but invidious nevertheless – the result a drastic population reduction from over 30,000 to 17,000 souls in a century – the Shetlanders diaspora.


Other folks had come and gone, made their fortunes, leaving behind a bleak future. Beneficiaries? Mainly the colonies, not the Old Rock.

Oil discovered brought jobs whereby the population stabilised, presently about 23,000, but is thought to be on the wane with concern about the future.

More recently the advent of wind farms has given a new lease of life to the island’s prospects, whereby the following has to be considered.

To maintain a viable population and to service growing prospects many things are needed by providing jobs and infrastructure. Firstly, maintain and nurture what is already there – SVT, SGP  fisheries, tidal, Orion, space port, tourism, agriculture.

This should mean support for all the prospects on and offshore which would provide gas to the UK allowing time for Orion and SIC to bring forward electricity hydrogen and other developments.

Some candidates advocate banning all oil/gas prospects – not very supportive of Shetlands long term prospects, in my opinion. Best to give them a body swerve at the polling booth.

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Developments need labour, housing, transport, decent freight transport for fishing exports, needing safe modern fishing harbours and all requiring connection to fixed links/tunnels.

All these require the deep pockets of the UK Government who control the currency and money supply for investment, not Edinburgh. Tories and parsimony are odious to many but I suggest the SIC holds its nose as only Westminster holds a key to the currency and money box.

The council elections are imminent, and those elected will have a difficult full time job to understand and give attention to it all.

Those more lately arrived in the islands may care to reflect on all the above and promote progressive policies in accordance with Shetland’s long term needs and history and the aspirations of its people’s cosmopolitan background and ignore the siren calls of dogmas from furth.

Cecil Robertson

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