26th September 2018
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Controversial Weisdale road plans to be subjected to government hearing

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A Scottish government hearing will be held over contentious and long-running proposals for a new £2.25 million road in Weisdale.

Plans for a refreshed stretch of the A971 from Haggersta to Cova have been held up for over 20 years due to disputes with residents and landowners.

A hearing is expected to take place in mid-June, after objections were received to a stopping up order – required to close part of the existing road to allow work to be carried out – and a compulsory purchase order made last year to acquire land in the area.

A report before this week’s infrastructure committee states the Scottish government has appointed a reporter, who has sought agreement on a date for the hearing. It is not known where the venue will be, but it will be in Shetland.

The council is taking legal advice on how best to proceed, although the report does not say how much that advice will cost.

“The council should be represented at the hearing as effectively as possible, and to this end an experienced external agent is being engaged,” the report says.

“By this means the council obtains the advice and assistance of an expert in the law as it applies to roads, transport and planning issues, and who has experience of hearings and public enquiries.

“There would be a risk to the council’s long-held commitment to this project if we were not able to be as effectively represented as possible at the upcoming hearing.

“The project is required in order to reduce the risks to road users, including cyclists and pedestrians.”

The project to build the new road goes back longer than most people care to remember. It was first listed in the council’s capital programme in 1988.

However it was still not listed in the approved provisional five-year programme in October 2009. Neither is it listed in the current four-year programme which was approved in October last year.

It’s hoped it will eventually be given a firm slot in the capital programme following its autumn review.

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About Ryan Taylor

Ryan Taylor has worked as a reporter since 1995, and has been at The Shetland Times since 2007, covering a wide variety of news topics. Before then he reported for other newspapers in the Highlands, where he was raised, and in Fife, where he began his career with DC Thomson. He also has experience in broadcast journalism with Grampian Television. He has lived in Shetland since 2002, where he harbours an unhealthy interest in old cars and motorbikes.

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