20th October 2018
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Councillors urged to reject plan for daytime ferry sailings to Kirkwall

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NorthLink has proposed daytime sailings to Kirkwall. Click on image to enlarge.

NorthLink has proposed daytime sailings to Kirkwall. Click on image to enlarge.

Councillors are being urged to reject NorthLink’s proposal to introduce daytime sailings from Lerwick to Kirkwall and back during busy times of the year.

In a report to go before ZetTrans on Friday, officials say the fact that many winter sailings would be cancelled to keep the scheme “cost neutral” mean the plan is unsatisfactory.

It comes after consultation with nine organisations and seven businesses in freight, fishing, tourism, training and sport industries and services, seven community councils, 32 members of the public and SIC’s infrastructure committee.

Most of those consulted said the loss of ferry services during the winter would hamper their activities. For example, the seafood industry, which earns the Shetland economy £220 million annually, regards daily sailings as fundamental to its success.

The report states: “The response from those involved in the seafood industry is that they cannot support any proposal which increases the risk of seafood freight from arriving on the mainland timeously and consistently and therefore are opposed to the proposal.

“Shetland is now one of the leading centres in Scotland for landing high value seafood produce, which would not be possible without the current frequency, reliability and fast ferry links with the mainland that the islands currently have.”

The officials say the attempts being made by NorthLink to address the problem of capacity on the ferries at busy times should be welcomed and that ZetTrans should work with the company and the Scottish Government to find alternative solutions.

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