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Transport / Consultant could be appointed for transport programme in coming months

Yell Sound ferries, MV Dagalien and MV Daggri. Photo: SIC

THERE are hopes that a consultant will be appointed for Shetland Islands Council’s inter-island transport connectivity programme in the spring.

But there has been some disappointment at the initial pace of the project, which will result in business cases on Shetland’s future internal transport – including potentially tunnels.

However, environment and transport chair councillor Moraig Lyall said she welcomed progress in making appointments.

SIC leader Emma Macdonald added her view that the local authority was “heading in the right direction” on the project.

Speaking at a meeting of the full council on Wednesday, project manager Louise Shearer said the plan was to have tender documentation for a consultant go out in January.

Meanwhile development director Neil Grant said a fruitful meeting had been held with community stakeholders including local tunnel action groups.

“That did feel really like we were all on the same page, and I think that’s really important in making this project happen,” he said.

The council has already approved £700,000 for the project, which is viewed as the first step towards potential tunnels as replacements for ferries on the busiest routes – Yell, Unst, Whalsay and Bressay.

When it was approved in March there was an estimate that the project could take 18 months.

Meanwhile Grant told Wednesday’s meeting that procurement organisation Scotland Excel will work with the council on recruiting a consultant.

This will streamline the process for the SIC as there will be a “mini competition” with pre-selected contractors instead of a competitive tendering process.

Speaking generally about the project, Lyall said “there is a prize to be gained here which is worth pursuing”.

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