Bressay tunnel not cost effective (Allen Fraser)

Fixed links have to be the way forward in the long term for the North Isles and Whalsay but I question the wisdom of putting Bressay ahead of Yell and Unst. I would question that a fixed link requiring an extra 10 miles return trip by road would save much in Bressay commuters’ costs, especially as in reality there should be a toll charge for upkeep of the tunnel. Indeed some would question if Bressay needs a fixed link at all.

If Bressay is to have a fixed link then I would seriously question that a tunnel is the best form of a fixed link. Of course you can tunnel through practically anything, but I would have serious doubts about tunnelling through the highly fractured and disrupted sandstone and conglomerate under Bressay Sound as being the most cost effective option.

It was the flawed judgement and inflated egos of the protagonists in the Bressay Bridge fiasco that ensured there is no fixed link to Bressay today. The millions wasted by the inability of the council and the harbour trust to agree how to span 500 metres of water is a disgrace and an ongoing drain on public finances. Even more amazingly those involved still have the brass neck to hold public office and are making recommendations on how vast sums of public money should be spent in a whole range of major projects.

Why is it that other island groups such as Orkney and Faroe can get on and build high schools and fixed links without leaving a trail of squandered millions and nothing to show for them?

Now it looks like it will happen all over again if Bressay is put ahead of Yell, Unst and Whalsay.

Allen Fraser


Add Your Comment
  • Paul Meyer

    • January 25th, 2012 22:31

    It’s absurd to even consider a tunnel to Bressay. The small population of less than 400 on the island surely cannot justify the cost of a major project of this nature – especially when the rest of us 10,500 odd council tax payers on Shetland will probably have to eventually foot the bill by increased council taxes.

    To add to the ridiculous notion of linking Bressay to Lerwick, (the argument applies equally to Whalsay, Yell and Unst), according to a survey conducted in 2007, out of the 391 questionnaires distributed on Bressay, from the 164 responses, it appears substantially less than 50% of the population actually use the ferry daily to travel to and from work.

    The Channel Tunnel that links England with France cost £4.650 billion (equivalent to £11 billion today) is 31.4 miles long and carries 17 million passangers and 15 million freight journeys a year. The Bressay tunnel would be 1,200 metres long with 350 metres under water at an ‘assumed’ cost of £46 million. This is based on estimated costs (including contingences) in 2008. That figure based on 2012 would be in the region of £50 million.

    I wonder how many ferry crossings and their related costs could one ‘purchase’ for £50 million quid?!

  • Colin Hunter

    • January 26th, 2012 10:10

    You’re missing the point though Paul. You can’t see the North Isles from the Town Hall, but you can see Bressay! Haven’t you twigged yet that it’s a cardinal sin to spend money on anything outside Lerwick and it’s environs! I can’t understand why the Lerwick Harbour Trust want to make the North Mouth wider and deeper anyway. They should just sheet pile up the Bressay side, back fill it and put some kind of lifting bridge across it. Result, a bridge to Bressay and more wharfage all in one fell swoop. With a bit of imagination they might even manage to incorporate a dry dock.

  • Joseph Kay

    • January 29th, 2012 0:35

    Proposed Whalsay Tunnel.
    If the funding were available it would be a collosal waste to start such a venture, the point most people seem to miss is Whalsay has been traditionally and still is 100 percent dependent on fishing with the shrinkage that is continuing to take place in this indusdry can we expect Whalsay to maintain its working population, 10 or 12 years from now? the earliest such a project could be completed, remember this will be one of the most challenging sub-sea tunneling undertakings in the UK, and Whalsay sound would be an absurd first step for Shetland. We may “bull up” future prospects, yes it goes against the grain to do otherwise, but at a time when many goverments and local authorities have found they are spending beyond their means, this would surely be another prime example.

    Joseph Kay
    18 Tripwell


Add Your Comment

Please note, it is the policy of The Shetland Times to publish comments and letters from named individuals only. Both forename and surname are required.

Comments are moderated. Contributors must observe normal standards of decency and tolerance for the opinions of others.

The views expressed are those of contributors and not of The Shetland Times.

The Shetland Times reserves the right to decline or remove any contribution without notice or stating reason.

Comments are limited to 200 words but please email longer articles or letters to for consideration and include a daytime telephone number and your address. If emailing information in confidence please put "Not for publication" in both the subject line and at the top of the main message.

200 words left

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


Get Latest News in Your Inbox

Join the The Shetland Times mailing list to get one daily email update at midday on what's happening in Shetland.