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Letters / Some big decisions to make

Following this latest SIC election process, our new prospective SIC councillors will need to carefully scrutinise the carbon and financial costs of many decisions that previous SIC councillors have made after following apparently flawed advice from SIC officialdom.

The Yell Sound ferry service and terminals were renewed between 2003 and 2006 at a cost of £37.1 million, as an alternative to a proposed tunnel at a cost of £26.9m to a worst case cost of £32.5 million.

The annual running cost of the Yell ferry service was recorded at £5.8 million in 2015/16, if we take that as an average running cost over the past 18 years, we get a figure of £104.4 million; plus the £37.1 million Yell ferry service construction costs.

This would have been more than enough to have paid for the construction of four tunnels at 2004 costs.

The Yell Sound and Whalsay routes are the only routes in Shetland that run two ferries on each route and consequently, they are also the most financially and environmentally expensive routes to run in Shetland.

The SIC revealed in a document presented in 2021 that the ferries running costs had also increased by 40 per cent since 2015/16.

The tunnel running cost was estimated to be less than £500,000 in 2004, and even doubling that figure would still be less than £20 million over 18 years.

The carbon cost of running the SIC ferry service was recorded in an SIC document at 47 per cent of the SIC total in 2013/14.

A large proportion of the environmental costs and 64 per cent of the ferries financial costs are attributable to the Whalsay and Yell Sound routes.

Our new council will have big decisions to make, like should the SIC be trying to cut back the environmental consequences of their own services?  And should they be supporting and encouraging our governments to sell off the seabed around our shores to wind farm developers; thus, restricting our local fishermen access to the bounty of marine resources that has sustained life in our Islands for thousands of years?

Big decisions affecting more of the people of Shetland than some folk realise.

We can only hope that they make the right ones.

William Polson

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