A HARBOUR providing Fair Isle’s main link with mainland Shetland is under threat because sea defences around its approach road are facing coastal erosion.
Shetland South councillor Rick Nickerson says the SIC’s harbour board needs to be aware of the problems facing the island’s North Haven harbour so something can be done to combat the problem.
His warning came as councillors agreed a light beacon should be installed at the harbour to aid the navigation of incoming vessels.
The decision, made by harbour board members at the Town Hall yesterday, follows a request from the master of the lifeline ferry Good Shepherd IV last month.
Councillors were told the beacon should cost an estimated £15,000 to install.
However, an extra £10,000 will be needed for a hydrographic survey to confirm established water depths in the area, after evidence of sand movement at the harbour was recorded.
Although both costs can be met from existing budgets for Fair Isle, Mr Nickerson warned there were “still very great concerns” about the causeway approach road.
“Something needs to be done about that because it could impact on the harbour.”
The board heard the roads department would be examining the problem, in conjunction with the coastal protection officer who works for the planning department.
Chairman Alastair Cooper said a “multi-agency approach” was needed to solve the problem.
The navigational light was approved by Lerwick South member Jim Henry, and seconded by councillor for Shetland North, Addie Doull.
* Fair Isle is also an increasing hot-spot for visiting cruise ships.
This year 11 cruise ships were scheduled to visit the island, with approximately 1,100 passengers.
Because of their size, the vessels have to anchor outside the harbour area, but passengers are transferred to and from North Haven by zodiacs to the old slipway on the south beach.
That has prompted fears for their safety as they attempt to walk over an often slippery concrete surface, as well as a rocky beach, before reaching the road.
Councillors are now considering installing hand-railed steps at the harbour.
The cost of access to dry land will be put before the board on 6th November.