Letters / Fair Isle deserves nothing less

It’s fantastic news that the Levelling Up Fund bid to replace the Fair Isle ferry has been successful.

Major funding boost as UK Government pledges nearly £27m for new Fair Isle ferry

The isle that has given us world famous Fair Isle knitwear, a shipping forecast sea area, a world-class centre for ornithology, a successful BBC crime drama, a marine protected area, two lighthouses, a secret swimming pool (the list goes on) – has received a welcome boost.

Congratulations must go to all the staff of the SIC’s transport planning department and Fair Isle folk who put in a monumental effort to make this successful bid to the Levelling Up Fund.

I’ve grown fond of the Good Shepherd IV, and after dozens of journeys between Grutness and the North Haven over the last 20 years, this summer I finally beat the seasickness which invariably accompanies seafaring visitors to the isle; the Fair Isle Channel is home to the heaviest seas around the British coast.


The new ferry will hopefully be larger and have a wider beam, enabling the crew to make the crossing in a faster time, and crucially in a much greater range of weather conditions. For isle folk, this will mean more predictability in terms of supply of fresh produce and less chance of being cut off for weeks, as is often the case during the winter months.

For passengers the journey will be significantly quicker and more comfortable. Aspirations of an on-board waffle machine may seem far-fetched for now – but at the very least, a reduction in seasickness would be most welcome!

With the green light for ferry replacement coming alongside the rebuild of the Fair Isle Bird Observatory, the future of Fair Isle looks bright. The wonderful folk of Fair Isle deserve nothing less.

Cllr Alex Armitage
Shetland South
Scottish Green Party

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