A senior manager may be taken on by Shetland Islands Council to push ahead with its £300 million plan to build four subsea tunnels to the main islands over the next 20 years.
The need for a dedicated manager, costing £50,000 a year, has been identified by a working group of councillors and officials who are looking into the practicalities of digging and financing tunnels for Unst, Whalsay, Bressay and Yell.
The possibility of creating the new post at a time of major spending cutbacks will be discussed tomorrow by the infrastructure committee. One of the manager’s jobs would be to help decide in what order the tunnels should be built.
Councillors voted in June not to build new ferries and terminals for Whalsay and instead to wait a few years in the hope that grants for fixed links will become available from the European Union and Scottish government once economic conditions improve. No external funding is anticipated before 2015.
The decision means that the existing ferries and terminals, particularly on the Whalsay service, will have to last a lot longer than previously envisaged. A full investigation of their structural condition is to be undertaken by an independent consulting engineer to assess the amount of work to be done and how much it will cost the council.