Councillors agree to bring forward Whalsay tunnel investigations

A Whalsay tunnel could be ruled out within a few weeks if Scandinavian experts advise a delegation from Shetland Islands Council that it would cost too much and take too long to meet the local authority’s requirements.

A team from Shetland is to travel to Glasgow for meetings with tunnel experts on 1st and 2nd March as part of an investigation ordered earlier this month as a possible alternative to building a new ferry terminal at North Voe.

But on Wednesday councillors agreed unanimously with the member from Whalsay, Josie Simpson, that the information gleaned from the trip should be used straight away to determine whether to proceed any further or scrap the investigation.

A report will be compiled for a special meeting of the infrastructure committee which will be convened to discuss the issue alongside a matching report sought by Mr Simpson from head of finance Graham Johnston showing at what point in the future a tunnel would become more cost-effective than ferries.

The decision at the Full Council may help to calm some of the uproar in Whalsay that greeted the sudden decision to look at a tunnel when the community had been told it was not an option and they could only choose which voe to build a new ferry terminal in.

The community council emailed all councillors on Friday expressing the “outrage, unhappiness and senses of betrayal” felt in the isle when the tunnel investigation was agreed.

Before Mr Simpson’s intervention this week the tunnel study was set to take until the end of the summer, involving exploratory tests at sea and on land to find out the geological conditions facing a tunnel.

For full story, see this week’s Shetland Times.


Add Your Comment
  • Burroughston Broch

    • February 21st, 2010 0:53

    If memory serves, Orkney considered a tunnel from Mainland to Shapinsay as a replacement for the short ferry ride. Scandinavian experts were brought in and reported back to OIC with a tunnel estimate. OIC looked at the sum, gulped, and then decided that the ferry didn’t look so bad after all. Check with the Orcadians.


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