Transport / More SIC reaction to ‘exceptionally good’ Fair Isle ferry funding news

Fair Isle from the sky.

THERE is more local reaction to the news that around £27 million is coming Shetland’s way for a few Fair Isle ferry and harbour infrastructure.

Chair of Shetland Islands Council’s environment and transport committee Moraig Lyall said after securing funding for Fair Isle “work continues to see progress with connectivity solutions” for other island communities.

Meanwhile SNP councillor Robbie McGregor, whose ward includes Fair Isle, praised the “spirit of cross-party working” which led to the funding award from the UK Government.

This is despite transport being a devolved matter to the Scottish Government.

He said the delay in funding a new ferry for Fair Isle – a remote island community with a population of around 50 – was down to tight finances in Holyrood.

The long-awaited news was announced on Wednesday night as the UK Government revealed its latest round of Levelling Up funding awards.

The Fair Isle ferry Good Shepherd IV. Photo: SIC

The case has been made for a replacement Fair Isle ferry for years, with the current Good Shepherd nearing the ends of its lifespan.

Lyall said it was “exceptionally good news for the Fair Isle community and Shetland more widely”.

“It’s also a well earned result for the staff who have worked hard on the project and associated funding applications for some time,” the Shetland Central councillor said.

“At a time when local government funding is very tight this is an answer to a pressing need which it is difficult to see how else it might have been funded.

“It will be great to see this progressing in the months and years ahead.

“Now that we have a result for Fair Isle, the work continues to see progress with connectivity solutions for our other island communities.”

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Shetland South councillor McGregor added: “I’m really delighted for the good folk of Fair Isle. We all know the Scottish Government’s transport budget has many demands upon it.

“Money​’​s really very tight indeed, partly because Holyrood doesn’t yet control all the taxes raised in Scotland, and that’s why there’s been a delay in funding the new Fair Isle ferry.

“I find it heartening that the detailed case made by the islanders has now persuaded the UK Government to make this very welcome decision to use UK funds – to which Shetland taxpayers, like everyone else, contribute.

“Credit where credit’s due is a good political principle and so I wish publicly to thank the minister ​for accepting the ​​arguments put forward by my fellow councillors, by our MP and by our Highlands & Islands MSPs from all parties.

“Hopefully this spirit of cross-party working will spread to other policy areas.”


Meanwhile his ward colleague Alex Armitage, who represents the Scottish Greens, said a “monumental effort” went into the funding bid.

He quipped that this summer he “finally beat the seasickness which invariably accompanies seafaring visitors to the isle” after dozens of trips on the ferry – which runs between the island and the South Mainland of Shetland – over the years.

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

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