Transport / Use some freed-up HS2 funding on tunnels, Wishart suggests

Lib Dem MSP Beatrice Wishart.

SHETLAND MSP Beatrice Wishart says some of the £36 billion pledged by the UK Government for transport infrastructure “across the country” after it cancelled the full HS2 rail project would be well received in the isles for tunnels.

On Wednesday prime minister Rishi Sunak announced the ‘Network North’ project after HS2, which was going to link London to Manchester via high speed rail, was cut short and will now only go to Birmingham.

The government said that the £36 billion saved by doing so will be invested in “hundreds of transport projects across the country – with every region set to receive the same or more transport investment on an unprecedented scale as a result of the change”.

Whilst a key focus of Network North is England, Wishart encouraged the government to think about spending some cash in Shetland.

There are only a few Network North projects specifically linked to Scotland, including improving connections between north and south of the border.


Tunnels are being spoken about as replacements for vessels on Shetland’s busiest ferry routes, and whilst no funding has been identified, Shetland Islands Council has previously suggested the UK Government could be one route for tunnels to Yell and Unst.

This is despite transport being a devolved matter to Scotland.

The spaceport being built in Unst is seen as nationally important, and has bolstered calls for tunnels to Yell and Unst.

Wishart told Shetland News: “If the Prime Minister wants to revolutionise infrastructure in the North, some of the re-directed HS2 funding would be well received in the most northernly part of the country – Shetland.

“Short subsea tunnels for Shetland could have significant benefits locally and nationally by encouraging economic growth, as well as all the social and cultural advantages they could bring to communities across Shetland.

“We need infrastructure that will serve us long into the future and tunnels have a longer lifespan than ferries.”

Meanwhile the idea of tunnels has received a fairly warm welcome from Highlands and Islands MSPs from all parties in the Scottish Parliament.

High level of interest in tunnels across political parties

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