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Community / Plenty of cheer in Cullivoe as new business park opened by government minister

Representatives of the various funders for the Cullivoe projects, from left to right: Shetland MSP Beatrice Wishart, Sally Spence (SIC), Tommy Coutts (SIC), MSP Joe FitzPatrick, Mhari McLeman (HIE), Councillor Robert Thomson, Maurice Henderson (SIC), Councillor Moraig Lyall. Photo: Shetland News

THE REVAMPED Cullivoe industrial estate was officially launched in Yell earlier today (Monday) against the backdrop of visiting tall ships.

Scottish minister for local government empowerment and planning Joe FitzPatrick was on hand to do the honours at a ceremony hosted by North Yell Development Council (NYDC).

NYDC’s Mark Lawson said the new industrial site represented an investment worth more than £3 million in total.

The ceremony coincided with the Sail Yell festival taking place in Cullivoe as a precursor to the main Lerwick Tall Ships event this week.

After the opening ceremony there was a reception for guests on the grand, Holland-based tall ship Morgenster.

Speaking afterwards, FitzPatrick said the community had worked “so hard” to get the projects, which were many years in the making, over the line.

“What’s key has been that the community has driven this, to decide what’s right for this place,” he added.

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Unveiling a sign at the business park, the MSP said: “I’m really impressed with the facilities, the services, the collaboration – everything that you have achieved here. I know that it will benefit this community for years to come.”

NYDC’s extended industrial estate comes after the community organisation also created a new marina just a stone’s throw away.

They sit next to the busy Cullivoe Pier, which is important for the fishing and aquaculture sector and also hosts tidal turbine company Nova Innovation.

NYDC director Christopher Thomason (left) and government minister Joe FitzPatrick (right). Photo: Shetland News

The industrial estate and marina project received more than £1.7 million from the Scottish Government’s regeneration capital grant fund, while its Marine Scotland Fund also provided £250,000.

Other funders include Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) and Shetland Islands Council.

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NYDC – which runs the five turbine Garth wind farm which returns profits to the community – also contributed hundreds of thousands of its own funds.

The expanded industrial estate offers additional space for businesses, providing serviced sites, and is expected to lead to the creation new jobs in the next few years.

There is set to be five businesses in the extended business park, while sea angling companies – which bring tourism into the area – work from the marina.

It comes against the backdrop of high demand from local companies, particularly in the marine sector.

The expansion has trebled the size of the industrial estate, which was first created in 2003. A large chunk of the work was excavating prior to its development.

NYDC director Andrew Nisbet said: “It’s good to see everything completed, and ready to go – everything finished and open for business.”

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The industrial estate and marina project has not been without its challenges, though.

A planning condition prohibited the transportation of materials along the well-worn Cullivoe road due to its deteriorating condition. Instead materials were shipped in to the site.

The road into Cullivoe, important economically due to its link to the pier, is due to be upgraded in the coming years by Shetland Islands Council.

The community group feel the area is in “dire need” of a new road – especially given there continues to be lorries going to and from the Cullivoe pier daily.

FitzPatrick said it is an important development but noted it is up the local authority to prioritise projects.

“I drove down the road, I can see how frustrating it would be,” he said.

“I get it, but I think it’s important that local communities and local authorities are empowered to make decisions and prioritise what they think is most important at that particular time.”

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The minister’s visit came after a fundraising campaign was launched by two community groups for initial investigations into the prospect of tunnels to Yell and Unst.

The MSP said it felt like there is “momentum growing in the area, so I think the local folk of this area are well served in a campaign which is organised and making the case”.

“The transport minister is coming up to Shetland next month to discuss some of the issues in terms of ferries here, for the ferries taskforce, looking at what options there are for the future,” he added.

“I think it’s important that the options of fixed links are part of that discussion. So, more power to their elbow I think.”

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