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Council / Cullivoe road construction now expected to begin in March next year

Photo: Shetland News

THE CONSTRUCTION of a new Cullivoe road is now expected to start in March 2025.

An update provided to councillors also confirmed a planning application for the work was recently submitted.

A new 6.8 metre two-lane road between Gutcher and Cullivoe in Yell is Shetland Islands Council’s (SIC) highest priority major road development but it has fallen behind a previous timescale.

The briefing to elected members said there has been a delay in the delivery of a final environmental impact assessment, which means that a full business case will only be able to go in front of councillors in December.

Last year it was revealed that the estimated cost of the new road had risen to £9.9 million.

The project is still listed as an unfunded project in the SIC’s asset investment plan ahead of the final business case being approved.

A few years ago, councillors approved the idea of creating a two-lane road between Gutcher and Cullivoe, but many have expressed a desire to see things move quicker.

It is an important link for aquaculture and fishing traffic which runs to and from Cullivoe Pier, but the current single track road is in poor condition.

The update to councillors said that in relation to land acquisition missives have been concluded on four plots with draft qualified acceptance received for two more.

Confirmation as to whether de-crofting is required for one plot is also being sought.

But this drew concern from North Isles councillor Robert Thomson at a meeting of the SIC’s environment and transport committee on Monday, who said it was “almost astonishing” this had not been figured out yet at this stage of the process.

He also said there had been “undue delays” around the process and called for things to move forward as quickly as possible.

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Infrastructure director John Smith said councillors would remain updated and added that “everybody is keeping their eye on the ball”.

There was a warning to councillors though that land acquisition and planning consent are “critical activities over which the roads service has no direct control, therefore there is still a risk that these activities could delay the project”.

The council said the final EIA was completed on 17 May, which includes a peat management plan.

Meanwhile the briefing to councillors also highlights that a suspensive condition the roads department had placed on the development of proposed caravan pitches at Cullivoe Pier has now been lifted.

These pitches are part of a wider upgrade of the area around the pier led by the North Yell Development Council (NYDC), which involves a new marina and plots for businesses.

Roads staff had been concerned about a potential increase in the number of caravans being towed along the existing road and the visibility for drivers, but this has been removed following a site visit.

Speaking in response to the news, NYDC director Andrew Nisbet said “as soon as we get clearance from planning we will develop the park as soon as we can”.

There had also previously been a restriction on new development in the Cullivoe area due to the condition of the existing road but that was lifted last year.

At Monday’s meeting committee chair councillor Moraig Lyall said it was “great” news that a planning application had now been submitted.

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