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Politics / Levelling Up minister enjoys extended Shetland visit

LEVELLING UP minister Jacob Young received the full Shetland treatment last week when his visit coincided with the Lerwick Up Helly Aa and his flight back to London was delayed due to weather.

The MP for Redcar was in Shetland for talks with the council and visits to a number of local businesses.

He arrived in Shetland late on Monday and managed to leave again on Friday.

Top of the agenda were the spiralling cost of the Fair Isle ferry project which is funded to the tune of £27 million from levelling up money, but also the various local projects that come under the £100 million islands growth deal, which was signed in January last year.

No commitment other than a willingness to continue talking to the council about delivering the Fair Isle ferry project was made by the minister.

Jacob Young MP

Young had been invited to visit the isles after council chief executive Maggie Sandison and council leader Emma Macdonald met him in at the last UK Government islands forum, held in the Western Isles in October.

Sandison said: “We’ve had a number of meetings and covered a range of topics and organised visits to showcase Shetland’s contribution to the UK economy and the importance of levelling up funding to support economic growth.

“We’ve discussed the Shetland economy, short tunnels, digital connectivity, the Shetland tariff, our levelling up bid (including seeking assistance with the rising costs) Shellvolution, Lerwick Port Authority and the deepwater decommissioning and offshore wind support base at Dales Voe.”

Plans to visit the community owned wind farm at Cullivoe and SaxaVord Spaceport in Unst had to be pushed back by a day due to the high winds and ferry cancellations last Wednesday.

Young also met with representatives from Shetland Fishermen’s Association on Thursday.

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The minister’s visit was not made public and local media was not invited to any of his engagements.

In a statement from the Levelling Up department, issued after the visit, the minister said: “I loved visiting the Shetland Islands. Seeing everything the islands have to offer, as well as hearing about its future plans for inter-island connectivity, renewable energy and sustaining their fishing industry.

“As part of my visit I was delighted to meet a community group in Yell who have installed their own wind farm, as well as meeting Saxavord at their spaceport in Unst, and the Shetland Fishermen’s Association in Lerwick.

“Shetland is an amazing part of our United Kingdom, and I look forward to continuing to work with them to level up our island communities.”

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