The Whalsay Community Council were encouraged when seeing reports stating the progress the SIC delegation had made during their meeting in Westminster.
We were however a bit dismayed to see that a tunnel to Whalsay did not appear to have been very high on the agenda at the meeting with the minister.
It presently appears, from the report, that the SIC are pressing ahead with their efforts to get tunnels built to Yell and Unst as a priority, this before the business case work has barely begun.
This must be at odds with council policy to provide all four to five tunnels for all Shetland connectivity, which would benefit all Shetland residents.
Surely the Whalsay link, when considered along with the running costs, terminal and ferry replacement costs and various other factors should have, at least, an equal priority over any other link.
We welcome the development of the SaxaVord Space Centre project, which will hopefully bring long term benefit to Unst and Shetland as a whole, but if commercial interests are the criteria for prioritising tunnel construction, that again must be against council policy.
This approach by the SIC will have the effect of setting island against island and should be avoided at all costs.
There should be a concerted effort by our elected officials to provide all the proposed links in one single project.
We are heartened to learn that the council is now very willing to engage with community groups, such as is the case at present with Unst and Yell.
The Whalsay Community Council have previously presented costs and proposed tunnel routes to the SIC, along with a geological survey and finance options, in an attempt to contribute to the progress of a tunnel to Whalsay. Now that the council is willing and on board with the project, we look forward to working with them to ensure Whalsay and all isles are valued and considered equally.
We cannot overstate the desire felt by the majority within our community, for the construction of a fixed link between Whalsay and the Shetland mainland to maintain and develop our island’s connectivity for future generations to come.
On behalf of Whalsay Community Council