Transport / ‘Intense’ piece of work ongoing to explore fixed link requirements

Tunnels like this one in Faroe are seen by some as the way forward. Photo: UK Government

A SEMINAR will be held for councillors later this month to set out what is needed to establish a “prioritised programme” of tunnel and ferry investment requirements in Shetland.

A full report on the topic is then expected to go in front of councillors in December.

There is significant support within the council chamber for replacing some of Shetland’s inter-island ferries with tunnels, but there will be a complex business case process.

How any tunnel would be financed is another matter.

Speaking at a meeting of Shetland Islands Council’s environment and transport committee on Wednesday, development director Neil Grant said a members’ seminar was also held back in August exploring the provision of fixed links.

Another seminar is due to be held on 22 November which will set out the business case methodology and resources required to set out a programme of tunnel and ferry investment priority.

“The next step then is to take a report to ZetTrans and environment and transport in the December cycle [of meetings],” Grant said.


“That’s a fairly intense piece of work that’s been happening there.”

With an ageing ferry fleet tunnels to islands such as Yell, Unst and Whalsay are seen as a possible long-term target.

Transport officials have estimated that the cost of running Shetland’s inter-island ferries will rise to around £23 million in 2023/24 – a rise of more than £5 million compared to the current financial year.

The council has submitted a request to the Scottish Government for this to be covered.

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