Editorial: The Old Rock 21.01.11

The SIC was at its best on Wednesday this week, showing off the strange but innovative machine its contractor has acquired to dig a tiny trench in the road from Lerwick to Sandwick to connect up to the Faroese superfast broadband cable. The connection is exactly the sort of infrastructure development the council should be investing in, particularly since telecoms firm BT has refused to do so. It is highly likely, as development committee chairman Alastair Cooper pointed out, to make the council money. The method is also very cost-effective and the machine’s progress south will cause minimal disruption to traffic.

The prospect of households gaining access to this service may be some way off, but it will benefit the council itself, other major organisations and local businesses to begin with. It’s shame that much of the reporting of this development nationally fell back on the old cliches about Shetland, dwelling on the hoary old line about the isles being connected to the rest of the world (we always have been, thanks very much).

But it has not been a good week for the reporting profession in Scotland. The BBC item about the government not introducing the duty relief pilot scheme for remote areas in the March budget knocked over a very flimsy straw man – who had ever suggested it would be in the budget? Why would it be when the government is seeking a derogation from the European Union for the scheme rather than legislative approval at Westminster? We can all wish, and we do, that the scheme be introduced as soon as possible. Frankly, it is taking far too long. But the sort of ill-informed nonsense spouted by people who ought to know much better this week was cringeworthy.


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