UHI Shetland - Open the door to your future
Wednesday 19 June 2024
 10.5°C   SW Fresh Breeze
Ocean Kinetics - The Engineering Experts

Politics / Government ‘very willing’ to discuss tunnels with the council, first minister says

The Eysturoyartunnilin tunnel in Faroe. Photo: Ólavur Frederiksen

FIRST minister John Swinney says the Scottish Government is “very willing” to discuss the idea of tunnels in Shetland with the council to “try to advance some of these proposals” – if there is desire from the community.

He was speaking this afternoon (Friday) – on the phone – after his morning flight to Shetland was scuppered by fog and low cloud and had to return to Edinburgh.

When asked whether the Scottish Government could facilitate subsea Shetland tunnels in any way, Swinney told Shetland News: “We’re certainly very willing to discuss these issues with Shetland Islands Council to try to advance some of these proposals if that’s the community desire to do so.”

He added that he had looking forward to an early discussion as first minister – having been sworn into the role earlier this month – with SIC leader Emma Macdonald during his planned visit to Shetland to “make the important point that I want the Scottish Government to have good collaborative discussions with local authorities to enable us to advance many of these questions and address the legitimate aspirations of communities around Scotland”.

The council is keen on tunnels as replacements for ferries to islands such as Yell, Unst and Whalsay and work continues on a new inter-island transport strategy which will explore fixed links.

First minister John Swinney.

However, a key question remains the financial aspect.

And with test activity at SaxaVord Spaceport in Unst hotting up as the facility prepares to open, there remains a feeling that the nationally important development bolsters the case for fixed links to Shetland’s North Isles.

Swinney described the spaceport venture – which recently secured a £10 million funding award from the UK Government – as “really interesting”.

“There’s great possibilities and opportunities there and I’m keen to make sure we engage constructively with all of these developments to ensure that here’s a vibrant economic future for Shetland and the varied communities within the islands,” he said.

Become a supporter of Shetland News


Swinney had been due to announce a funding package worth £5 million for the islands on his visit to Shetland, including an extra £1 million for the Island Cost Crisis Emergency Fund and £3 million to support “locally designed critical island infrastructure projects”.

He denied suggestion from some on social media that the funding news may have been a sweetener to island voters ahead of the July UK general election, which was announced only a couple of days ago.

The first minister said the announcement was part of an “ongoing policy agenda”.

“The fact that the prime minister decided to call an election rather abruptly on Wednesday is not something I’ve got any control over, but it certainly shouldn’t stop island communities being properly funded by the work of their own government, which was what I was trying to set out today,” Swinney said.

He added that he has offered himself as a first minister for “everybody in Scotland”.

“I set out on a very deliberate agenda to be out and about in Scotland, and I’ve been doing that since I became first minister,” Swinney said.

“At the earliest opportunity I wanted to visit one of our island communities. At a very personal level, our islands are precious to me. I have spent a lot of my leisure time – I’m not sure how much leisure time I’m going to have for the foreseeable future – in our island communities, and I wanted to demonstrate that by a visit to Shetland.”

Become a supporter of Shetland News

Shetland News is asking its many readers to consider start paying for their dose of the latest local news delivered straight to their PC, tablet or mobile phone.

Journalism comes at a price and because that price is not being paid in today’s rapidly changing media world, most publishers - national and local - struggle financially despite very healthy audience figures.

Most online publishers have started charging for access to their websites, others have chosen a different route. Shetland News currently has  over 600 supporters  who are all making small voluntary financial contributions. All funds go towards covering our cost and improving the service further.

Your contribution will ensure Shetland News can: -

  • Bring you the headlines as they happen;
  • Stay editorially independent;
  • Give a voice to the community;
  • Grow site traffic further;
  • Research and publish more in-depth news, including more Shetland Lives features.

If you appreciate what we do and feel strongly about impartial local journalism, then please become a supporter of Shetland News by either making a single payment or monthly subscription.

Support us from as little as £3 per month – it only takes a minute to sign up. Thank you.



Subscribe to a selection of different newsletters from Shetland News, varying from breaking news delivered on the minute, to a weekly round-up of the opinion posts. All delivered straight to your inbox.

Daily Briefing Newsletter Weekly Highlights Newsletter Opinion Newsletter Life in Shetland Newsletter

JavaScript Required

We're sorry, but Shetland News isn't fully functional without JavaScript enabled.
Head over to the help page for instructions on how to enable JavaScript on your browser.

Your Privacy

We use cookies on our site to improve your experience.
By using our service, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Cookie Policy.

Browser is out-of-date

Shetland News isn't fully functional with this version of .
Head over to the help page for instructions on updating your browser for more security, improved speed and the best overall experience on this site.

Interested in Notifications?

Get notifications from Shetland News for important and breaking news.
You can unsubscribe at any time.

Become a supporter of Shetland News

We're committed to ensuring everyone has equitable access to impartial, open and quality local journalism that benefits all residents.

By supporting Shetland News, you play a vital role in ensuring we remain a pivotal resource in supporting the community.

Support us from as little as £3 per month – it only takes a minute to sign up. Thank you.