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Transport / ZetTrans the right vehicle for local transport choices – says councillor Lyall

The future of air travel? An Airlander over Stromness. Image: Hybrid Air Vehicles

COUNCIL officers have begun exploring how Shetland could be more specifically involved in a project designed to bring low emission aviation to the Highlands and Islands.

Based at Kirkwall Airport and managed by HiTrans, the transport partnership for the region, the project is now looking at the feasibility of deploying six hybrid airships on Highlands and Islands services.

The agreement between HiTrans and Bedford-based Hybrid Air Vehicles, announced at the end of April, includes developing a full business case for the commercial operation of the Airlander 10 aircraft in the region for passenger and freight.

Asked by Shetland News whether the isles are precluded from participating in such projects because Shetland is part of the single authority transport partnership ZetTrans rather than HiTrans, the organisation’s chair councillor Moraig Lyall said “having our own transport partnership gives us the independence and flexibility to make the right choices for Shetland”.

Shetland Central councillor and chair of ZetTrans Moraig Lyall. Photo: Shetland News

She said: “For example, we have secured £800k of funding for active travel this financial year, which we may not have done without our own RTP [regional transport partnership].”

Lyall said there was “significant existing collaboration” with the other seven regional partnerships, including recent support from all RTPs for the principle of fixed links in Shetland.

With regards to the sustainable aviation test environment (SATE) project at Kirkwall Airport, she added: “It is worth noting that we have already had test flights from Tingwall Airport of an autonomous drone type aircraft in an earlier stage of the project.”

Councillor Lyall continued by saying that regarding the wider issue raised, there is expected to be a review of governance of transport across Scotland and views will be sought on this in due course.

However, there appears to be little appetite for change as neither ZetTrans members or any councillors have asked for a review of the existing arrangements.

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