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Transport / Opening of new Faroe tunnel draws envy from Shetland

Vehicles waiting at the entrance of a single-lane tunnel with height restriction sign.

THE OPENING of a new tunnel in Faroe has been met with congratulations – and a dose of envy – by those who support fixed links for Shetland.

The 10.8km tunnel to Sandoy is the latest – and longest – underground transport link in Faroe.

Sandoy is thought to have a population of around 1,200 people.

Members of the Unst and Yell tunnel action groups in Shetland recently visited Faroe to learn more of the transport network there.

The opening of the Sandoy tunnel today (Thursday) came on the same day all of Shetland’s morning internal ferry runs were cancelled due to high winds.

The Unst and Yell tunnel groups said on social media that they are “particularly envious” of Faroe’s unrestricted travel at this time of the year.

North Isles councillor Ryan Thomson said it must be a “great feeling” for the community of Sandoy, in the self-governing Faroe, to be able to travel without the restrictions of ferries.

“It’s amazing what Faroe Islands have, a government focused only on Faroe and the people of Faroe,” he said.

“They don’t have to go with the begging bowl to a government 814 miles away that couldn’t find Shetland on a map.

“I remember a visit to Shetland from a Conservative MP around 2019 who asked me, in the Town Hall, why we didn’t have a bridge between Shetland and Orkney.

“Self governance is normal, beneficial, everywhere…outside of the United Kingdom.”

There is support for tunnels to Unst, Yell, Whalsay and Bressay, and fixed links will form part of work the council will undertake on a new inter-island transport programme, which will result in business cases.

Northern Isles MP Alistair Carmichael recently said that progress on the campaign for fixed links in Shetland has been “quite remarkable” in the last two years, with a “sense of momentum” including community groups fundraising for initial investigations.

He added: “Tunnel links are not a cure-all for every issue in the isles, but if we learn from our Northern neighbours in the Faroe Islands and create a credible plan for their implementation, then the results could be transformative for Shetland”.

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