Council / SIC leadership heads to Holyrood to ‘get the message out’ on energy, transport and connectivity

From left to right: SIC development director Neil Grant, Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar, SIC depute leader Gary Robinson, SIC chief executive Maggie Sandison.

COUNCIL representatives have been rubbing shoulders with party leaders, government ministers and MSPs in the Scottish Parliament this week to highlight a variety of issues around Shetland, from tackling fuel poverty to tunnels.

Shetland Islands Council (SIC) leader Emma Macdonald and her depute Gary Robinson have been in Holyrood to make the case for the isles.

They have been joined by chief executive Maggie Sandison and development director Neil Grant.

Their talks with MSPs have largely focused on three topics – energy, transport and broadband.

Macdonald said it was a “good opportunity to get our message out”.

She said there were a “series of specific discussions from discussing local benefit from offshore wind to tackle fuel poverty, making R100 reach 100 per cent of households, replacement vessels and subsea tunnels to deliver significant mutual benefit”.

Macdonald said there are three “campaign proposals” – “Energising Shetland, the Shetland Short Crossings Project and S-100”.


Energising Shetland revolves around the push to make Shetland a hub for the new energy industry.

The short crossings project aims to highlight the need for ferry replacements and potential tunnels where feasible.

Meanwhile the S-100 campaign shines a light on the number of areas of Shetland which stand to be left out of the Scottish Government’s R100 programme to bring superfast broadband to all.

Robinson said the council is pushing an idea for a different way to achieve superfast broadband for everyone in Shetland.

Vouchers worth up to £5,000 are available for people in “hard to reach” areas who will miss out in the main R100 roll-out, and these are for alternative technologies like satellite broadband or 4G internet.

But Robinson said the council’s idea is to have the voucher funding for eligible households in Shetland pooled together and then used in a wider way to extend the local fibre network.

Become a supporter of Shetland News


“We’ve been highlighting the fact that the voucher scheme…that can be really challenging for folk to be able to take that money and go out and deliver their own broadband,” Robinson said.

“We’ve been arguing the case that we should really be able to aggregate that £5,000 for all the households in Shetland that are not going to be covered by the R100 scheme, and put that into a local solution.”

He said that would essentially be an extension of the Shetland Telecom fibre network, “to pick up all of the places that the R100 scheme isn’t going to reach”.

Macdonald said the topics which have been discussed are “all centred on discouraging depopulation and encouraging repopulation”.

“We need to make it more affordable to live in Shetland, easier to travel here and more connected to work here, if we are to reverse our demographic trends,” the councillor added.


Robinson added that by late Thursday afternoon the team had spoken to nearly 50 MSPs.

The reaction had been positive, he suggested, with politicians in particular understanding of the desire for a “Shetland tariff” – lower bills for households to reflect the isles hosting energy production.

“I think it’s fair to say we’ve had really good conversations with all of them [the MSPs],” Robinson added.

“Most of them have expressed that they just hadn’t realised how much was happening in Shetland.”

Commenting on the parliamentary exhibition, Shetland MSP Beatrice Wishart said it highlighted the isles’ “unique opportunities and challenges”.

“It was encouraging to see such strong and positive engagement between council representatives and MSPs from across all parties,” she said.

“MSPs took time out of their busy schedules to visit the stand to hear about energy, transport, connectivity and all things Shetland.”

Become a supporter of Shetland News

Shetland News is asking its many readers to consider start paying for their dose of the latest local news delivered straight to their PC, tablet or mobile phone.

Journalism comes at a price and because that price is not being paid in today’s rapidly changing media world, most publishers - national and local - struggle financially despite very healthy audience figures.

Most online publishers have started charging for access to their websites, others have chosen a different route. Shetland News currently has  over 600 supporters  who are all making small voluntary financial contributions. All funds go towards covering our cost and improving the service further.

Your contribution will ensure Shetland News can: -

  • Bring you the headlines as they happen;
  • Stay editorially independent;
  • Give a voice to the community;
  • Grow site traffic further;
  • Research and publish more in-depth news, including more Shetland Lives features.

If you appreciate what we do and feel strongly about impartial local journalism, then please become a supporter of Shetland News by either making a single payment or monthly subscription.

Support us from as little as £3 per month – it only takes a minute to sign up. Thank you.



Subscribe to a selection of different newsletters from Shetland News, varying from breaking news delivered on the minute, to a weekly round-up of the opinion posts. All delivered straight to your inbox.

Daily Briefing Newsletter Weekly Highlights Newsletter Opinion Newsletter Life in Shetland Newsletter

JavaScript Required

We're sorry, but Shetland News isn't fully functional without JavaScript enabled.
Head over to the help page for instructions on how to enable JavaScript on your browser.

Your Privacy

We use cookies on our site to improve your experience.
By using our service, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Cookie Policy.

Browser is out-of-date

Shetland News isn't fully functional with this version of .
Head over to the help page for instructions on updating your browser for more security, improved speed and the best overall experience on this site.

Interested in Notifications?

Get notifications from Shetland News for important and breaking news.
You can unsubscribe at any time.

Become a supporter of Shetland News

We're committed to ensuring everyone has equitable access to impartial, open and quality local journalism that benefits all residents.

By supporting Shetland News, you play a vital role in ensuring we remain a pivotal resource in supporting the community.

Support us from as little as £3 per month – it only takes a minute to sign up. Thank you.