SHETLAND’s political representatives have launched a new round of ‘Tunnel Vision’ events as they look to build momentum for fixed links.
The events, hosted by MP Alistair Carmichael and MSP Beatrice Wishart, will be held across island communities in August.
It comes after UK Government Scotland Office minister Iain Stewart visited Faroe – a group of islands heralded as an inspiration when it comes to tunnels – and reported back favourably about the idea of fixed links for Scottish islands.
The series of events will discuss how the proposals for tunnels connecting island communities can be driven forward with the Scottish and UK governments.
Letters inviting islanders have been sent earlier in the week and the first attendees have already responded.
It follows the first Tunnel Vision online event held earlier this year, in which a clear majority of attendees were in support of fixed links.
The islands which are seen as most likely candidates for fixed links are Unst, Yell, Whalsay and Bressay.
There is broad support in the council chamber for them replacing the isles’ ageing ferries, but the cost is a barrier.
Carmichael said: “Fixed links for the isles are more than just a pipe dream – they are an essential part of the discussion on how we safeguard the future of our island communities.
“What has happened in the Faroes is a clear indication of the transformational potential of these connections.
“That is why we are working to generate a community consensus on how we move forward with fixed links. The first round of discussions made it clear that there is interest in moving forward but we need to make a plan of action as a community.
“What we will need in turn from our governments is some respect for the strength of feeling in the isles, and a recognition that short-term thinking will not cut it.
“If we continue with the same old transport solutions then we will simply be paying over and over while facing the same old problems.”
Shetland MSP Beatrice Wishart said: “Community led tunnel action groups, which we hope to help establish, will help develop the conversation.
“I will be meeting with the transport minister later this month and among other transport issues facing islanders I will raise fixed links. We need commitment to feasibility studies in principle, just as governments would for other national projects on the Mainland.”
Events will be held in:
Fetlar – Monday 15 August
Unst – Tuesday 16 August
Yell – Wednesday 17 August
Out Skerries – Friday 19 August
Whalsay – Saturday 20 August
Bressay – Saturday 20 August
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