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Council / Frustration as cable laying closes Kergord road for two months

THE CHAIR of the Weisdale, Whiteness and Tingwall community council has said residents would be hugely inconvenienced after it emerged that the Sandwater to Kergord road is set to be closed for two months.

Andrew Archer said the community council had not been consulted or told and he only heard about the closure on Monday.

He said that in addition to the obvious inconvenience, the community council’s other main concern was about road safety due to the additional traffic on the unclassified Stromfirth road.

Following inquiries by Shetland News on Monday, Shetland Islands Council confirmed today that the B9075 will be closed from 14 May to 18 July to allow Scottish and Southern Energy Networks (SSEN) to lay an underground cable.

While access to local properties in Kergord and Upper Kergord will be possible throughout the period, the narrower Stromfirth road has been advertised as alternative road linking the A970 and A971.

Archer, who also chair the Viking community liaison group, said he had inquired with SSEN as why the works can’t wait until the new B9075 running parallel has been tarred to allow traffic to use this as an alternative.

“When I spoke to SSE they said that they can’t delay the work because it would affect their project timescales,” Archer said.

“It seems that what is convenient for them matters a lot more to them than the impact on the community.”

He added: “Obviously it means inconvenience for people, both locals and tourists, but I think that for the community council, road safety is probably our biggest concern.

“The community council has been doing some work with SIC recently on how the Stromfirth road can be made safer. It has some really bad bends and pushing more traffic on to that road is not a good idea.”

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Chairman of campaign group Sustainable Shetland, Frank Hay, who lives in the area, said a public notice in Friday’s Shetland Times had been “very confusing”.

“Was there any consultation about this or can SSE just do as they please? he asked.

“Will the people who going to be seriously inconvenienced by this be offered any compensation for increased fuel costs and wasted time?

“The SIC should reconsider their decision to allow the road closure, since councillors appear not to have been consulted about this.”

Local councillor and chair of the environment and transport committee, Moraig Lyall, also knew nothing about the  road closure.

She said: “This has been handled very poorly by SSE. The community liaison group was established for the wind farm project to enable dialogue with the affected communities about exactly this sort of thing.

“Something that is going to inconvenience a substantial number of people for an extended period of time should certainly have been brought to the group for awareness and to allow folk time to plan their lives around the disruption.

“The local community already have concerns about the Stromfirth road which is the alternative route. It has a number of bends and blind summits and is regularly used by dog walkers and others. The increase in traffic will be a worry for some.”

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