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Transport / Consultants likely to start work on inter-island transport strategy next month

The Eysturoyartunnilin tunnel in Faroe. Photo: Ólavur Frederiksen

CONSULTANTS could get to work on a milestone Shetland inter-island transport strategy in April.

Councillors heard the update at a meeting on Monday, with the expectation being that the work could take around 12 to 18 months to complete – which is behind the initial targets.

The strategy will explore the needs of Shetland’s inter-island transport network, and this will include potential tunnels as possible ferry replacements.

Meanwhile concern has been raised that the ‘fair’ funding set to be received by Shetland Islands Council in 2024/25 from the Scottish Government for running its ferries is the same as 2023/24.

Development director Neil Grant said the settlement was not too much different than the SIC had requested for 2024/25, but the concern was if freezes happen again in the future.

He said this would lessen the overall value of the funding package.

Government agency Transport Scotland has indicated that it has received a flat grant for 2024/25, and this is mirrored in the funding to the SIC.

Last year councillors approved a spend of £700,000 – from Crown Estate revenue, on the inter-island transport study – which will support the creation of strategic and outline business cases.

Grant told councillors that tenders have been received for an external consultant to work on the project.

He confirmed that there stands to be engagement with the community during the process.

Meanwhile work continues behind the scenes on the Fair Isle ferry replacement project, which has funding of nearly £27 million from the UK Government.

After councillors decided amid rising costs to pursue a mainly lift on/lift off vessel instead of a fully ro-ro ship, it is expected that a full business case will come to elected members for decision in May.

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