Council to examine whether motorsport event is too noisy for neighbouring cats

The SIC is to measure the noise level of a future motorsport event before deciding whether to allow Tingwall Airport to be used as a venue.

Following concern from the nearby Gott Cattery, councillors on Friday agreed to get officials to test the decibel level caused by Shetland Motorsport Club activities before deciding whether to approve the airport’s use in the longer term.

Environment and transport committee chairman Allan Wishart was perplexed, saying there were already aircraft taking off and landing close to the cattery every day. A busy main road also runs right past the cats’ boarding house, and he wants a comparison of the noise pollution caused by those factors.

But councillor Jonathan Wills had little time for the motorsport fraternity, saying such events were “noisy, polluting and pointless” and encouraged young drivers to cavort around Shetland “like they’re Lewis Hamilton”.

Dr Wills thought the SIC should be giving such events a wide berth when it is trying to reduce carbon emissions.

In October, the council decided that no more motorsport events would be held in Unst, whose airstrip the Shetland Motorsport Club had been using for nearly 10 years. At that time, North Isles councillors said folk in Unst saw little benefit in the events being staged there.


Add Your Comment
  • Martyn Fisher

    • November 23rd, 2012 14:23

    Starting to lose faith in Johnathan Wills. Always had a lot of respect for the guy. I am not a big fan of motorsports myself, but many people are and being a Councillor means you dont speak for yourself but you speak for the people who vote for you. Dont be a killjoy Mr Wills !!!.

  • Stewart Mack

    • November 23rd, 2012 14:40

    Mr Wills once again so triumphantly demonstrates his failure to grasp reality. Perhaps the same arguement could be said for people pottering around in boats in Shetland waters, a good number of which are still two stroke engines, but even those taht are 4 strokes are doing little good for the atmosphere. How utterly proposterous. Because Dr Wills doesnt understand it shouldnt happen? – Duly noted come election time. And shame on you Gott Cattery. Once its found that the noise of the (regular) aircraft taking off are louder than the cars, what excuse are the “anti-fun” brigade going to roll out? If they are not doing any harm (and they are not!) then leave them alone. What Dr Wills patently fails to see is that events such as this encourage Shetland Drivers to keep their “spirited” driving to off road situations, what Dr Wills is suggesting will do nothing to keep it off our roads

  • Colin Arthur

    • November 23rd, 2012 15:09

    Carbon emissions? the council have 2 tugs out of service which have been lying at the pier probably burning over a ton of fuel each a day just to keep water jacket tempratures/lube oil etc warmed and he is worried about a few people driving up and down a runway out of harms way at a weekend.

  • Ryan Arthur

    • November 23rd, 2012 15:50

    Once again Mr Wills displays an astounding level of ignorance. With just a hint of homework he’d know that the airport is quite handsomely paid for the Motorsport Club’s hire of the venue, something the Council should really encourage if it is truly intent on avoiding its imminent financial demise. Secondly, I would like to strenuously state that the SMC FREQUENTLY state the case for road safety and responsible driving, and by staging these events we allow opportunities for competitive motor-sport OFF the public road. At absolutely no point do we or have we encouraged road-racing or any illegal activities whatsoever. The cars that have attended our events have ALL passed their MoT’s, and are ALL driven by licensed drivers. Our rules are strict, and strictly adhered to, therefore it really causes no more noise, risk or nuisance than normal traffic.

    I’d encourage the council and the cattery to consider where they think the racing will occur if all legal venues are removed.

    Personally, I’m very proud of our club, the values we promote and the fact that youngsters are encouraged to turn to competitive motorsports and engineering pastimes rather than alcoholism or worse. It’s become a brilliant community and sub-culture in shetland and more than deserves a place to flourish.

    Perhaps we could compare our carbon-monoxide emissions to Mr Wills’ boat?

  • Ryan Arthur

    • November 23rd, 2012 15:52

    And as a little note, a survey of our members who attended the single event staged at Unst this year indicated they’d spent approximately £3000 in the space of 24 hours in Unst and on the ferry. Although the council bizarrely came up with a figure of £280 we could produce several members who spent more than that individually.

  • john Irvine

    • November 23rd, 2012 21:58

    if Dr Wills is so concerned about pollution he might like to consider how much fuel the Dunter III uses, this vessel with its oversized twin engines will burn more in one trip than any motorsport event.

  • George Jacobson

    • November 23rd, 2012 22:53

    I’d venture to suggest that it’s a lot better for Motorclub members to exercise their vehicles on Tingwall Airstrip than on the public highway. Such activities on the public roads often end in a visit to the Gilbert Bain – and in extreme cases to the old Gilbert Bain. Much better to enjoy the vehicles at properly organised events with appropriate safety provisions. I very much doubt if the cats would notice!!!

  • Andrew Hawick

    • November 24th, 2012 2:46

    That is a bit rich coming from a man who makes a living taking people on diesel powered, and I am sure some people see as pointless tours around Bressay.

    What is it they say about people in glass houses?

    I can understand Alan Wishart’s bewilderment, as people do not normally associate airports with tranquility.

    There always seems to be a problem in Shetland when it comes to something new or different. Let the event go ahead then go and take part then make your own mind up if you like it or not.

    I think they call it experience.

  • John Tulloch

    • November 24th, 2012 11:16

    Once again that renowned “PR-five-hunder-biddy” Joanathan Wills plays a low trumph to get everyone talking about carbon emissions and (elsewhere) whether Viking Energy (VE) reneged on its health impact survey when matters of real concern are

    1. Neither the £6.3m handed to VE by Shetland Charitable Trust (SCT), nor other moneys which may subsequently follow will earn a crust until at least 2020.

    2. Progress on SCT’s own wind farm health impact assessment – forced on them by bitter contention over the VE “revoke” – is due to be discussed at the December meeting of SCT. Don’t hold your breath!

    3. The Scottish Parliament’s Economy, Energy and Tourism Committee report on the Scottish government’s renewable energy – already described as an “unbelievable whitewash” has just been released.

    4. The effect of council cuts.


    Carbon emissions, my foot!

  • Elizabeth Johnson

    • November 24th, 2012 18:58

    I am an Unst resident and I have not heard one single person saying anything negative about the Motor Club coming to the island. Who are all these people that supposedly said they did not want this happening in Unst anymore and what was the reasoning and how much research was done by the SIC prior to this decision being taken?

  • Eric Handley

    • November 25th, 2012 2:57

    So, the council are grasping at every available penny, and laying off hundreds of workers… yet they are spending who knows how much to send a guy out to work (on a Sunday) to measure sound, for cats?
    Am i missing something here?
    Has the council completely lost the plot?

  • Colin Hunter

    • November 25th, 2012 11:23

    It never ceases to amaze me that cyclists can hold “Time Trials” apparently without let or hindrance on the Tingwall straight, while the road is still in use by the public. If the SMC tried the same, their feet wouldn’t touch the ground! It also seems bizarre that it is possible to close a public road in order to hold a cycle race, but not a motorsport event, such as a hill climb for instance.
    Also, have the Council not given money to help build a “Skatepark” so that skateboarders can do their thing? If we’re getting into pointless pursuits, I can think of little more pointless than that! But if they enjoy it, fair play to them, and it stops them annoying people on the street or wherever.
    The same consideration should be given to the SMC who are willing to pay handsomely for the privilege. After the snore of an Islander taking off, I can’t imagine the cats would even notice!

  • Janet

    • November 25th, 2012 17:19

    I have contacted the councillors, regarding the on going use of Tingwall Airport by Shetland Motorsports, in my capacity as co ordinator of the Shetland Branch of Cats Protection. We at Cats Protection would like them to be aware of our objections. We have a shelter at the cattery housing many nervous cats that we have worked hard to socialise ready for re-homing, and the noise from revving vehicles etc does not help with their rehabilitation. Whilst we appreciate we have no input as to what the council decide to do regarding the use of the airport we would like to ask that they please cease its usage by the Motorsport Club .


  • Stella Winks

    • November 26th, 2012 6:52

    These comments by a man who endorses the rape of Shetland is willing and keen to inflict the tremendous noise and disturbance of monster turbines on innocent law abiding Shetland residents! What is Dr. Wills on? The man’s continued pro stance on a spurious wind farm scheme, along with his cohorts, beggars belief and then along comes this complaint about a few vehicles! CRIKEY!

  • John Robertson

    • November 26th, 2012 13:06

    What came first the airport or the cattery?.

  • John R L Robertson - reporter

    • November 26th, 2012 16:57

    Put the radio on for the cats when the boys are spinning about. Problem solved.

  • Jane Haswell

    • November 26th, 2012 23:27

    ‘Dr Wills thought the SIC should be giving such events a wide berth when it is trying to reduce carbon emissions.’

    The proposed school closures would result in bussing over 350 children daily, 5 days a week , over 40 weeks of the year all resulting in huge additional carbon emissions. Now that’s a carbon emission increase which the SIC should give a wide berth to !

  • Jonathan Wills

    • November 27th, 2012 22:07

    Noisy, polluting and pointless

    Some of your angrier correspondents may not be able to spell Jonathan but, oh boy, they can fairly hate.

    It’s tempting to ignore the literary road rage aroused by my comment that most motor sport is noisy, polluting and pointless. But, on the good old ‘JG principle’, it’s always worth refuting nonsense, in case people start believing it.

    First of all, Ryan Arthur has a reason to be cheerful: my attempt to stop Wacky Races invading Tingwall Airstrip couldn’t even find a seconder, so the petrolheads are still in charge at the Town Hall. But I was pleased to hear that Ryan and his colleagues are doing their best to teach road safety. Good for them. To judge by the supercharged young roadhogs making handbrake turns on Victoria Pier and burning rubber along the Esplanade most evenings, Ryan’s club (and the police) still have a lot of work to do.

    Leaving the issue of public safety to one side, even the biggest enthusiasts for car culture must surely recognise that Shetland is one of the most oil-dependent communities on earth, and that this is a problem. We currently burn over 100,000 tonnes of crude oil equivalent every year, just to keep 22,500 people in the style to which we’ve become accustomed. That includes the fuel for the power station, ferries and planes. It’s roughly the capacity of one of those tankers that anchor off Gulberwick, a very good reason why we should do what we can to reduce our huge carbon footprint.

    Another reason is that, as the sea level rises, we have no tropical corals here to build up the land and keep our grandchildren’s feet dry. At this rate, global warming could flood quite a lot of Shetland. This is why I’m a supporter of the Viking windfarm project, unlike the curiously named ‘Sustainable” Shetland organisation, which is trying to scupper it using legal action. It’s also why I’m keen for us to explore the potential of wave and tidal power.

    Whether my wildlife boat tours are pointless or not is a matter of opinion. Some 33,000 passengers over the past 20 years would seem to disagree with your indignant correspondent, but of course they’d be at a disadvantage in this sort of debate because they’ve actually been on the trip and know what they’re talking about.

    Yes, my boat has twin diesel engines. Guilty as charged. There are two of them for the safety of my passengers, as the Maritime and Coastguard Agency and my insurers could confirm. I do wish they were electric motors or ran on hydrogen but that technology is not yet practicable in commercial operations. For obvious financial reasons I use as little diesel as I can.

    We’re none of us environmental angels but at least I don’t burn fuel just for kicks.

    Yours sincerely,
    Jonathan Wills

    PS The references to Wacky Races and petrolheads were intended as jokes. So please don’t get cross all over again.

  • Ryan Arthur (SMC Chairman)

    • November 28th, 2012 13:18

    The paragraph regarding the ‘supercharged roadhogs’ on the pier raises the club’s most insurmountable issue Mr Wills. Its very unfair to the SMC to automatically assume that because people are using cars irresponsibly, they MUST be members of the club, and therefore the club should be discredited by some sort of imagined association with said roadhogs. Over and over again, we strenuously encourage decent, considerate and lawful on-road behavior of all our members, and the threat of expulsion from our club is ever present to troublemakers and we cooperate wholly and fully with the police not only at our race events, but all our fundraisers too.

    Since the club stood idle from late 2007 till early this year, fuel prices have gone through the roof along with the cost of living. At our first meeting prior to reestablishing the club over a third of the attendees were driving diesels so I sat down and re-organised the club’s car-class system to make it fairer and more inclusive for the more economical vehicles. That inclusion ensured a greater participation from diesels and the proportion of turbo petrol cars is much smaller than previously.

    I’m not a fan of boats and I dont travel well by sea, but had our positions been reversed, I wouldnt vote your operation down just because of my personal opinion. What we provide is a legal, safe and carefully controlled venue for competitive motorsport, encouraging responsible driving and looking after a very popular social subculture. All things considered I’m extremely proud of the SMC, our achievements, our committee and our members.

  • Andrew Gibson

    • November 28th, 2012 17:33

    Mr Wills, how dare you profess to serve the people of the islands, you have no understanding of people and their needs, only your own narrow minded views, as the above letter demonstrates.
    There are millions of car enthusiasts (“petrolheads”) in the country and a significant number of those live in Shetland; far more than the 1650 per year that use your boat. Yes, you don’t use it for kicks, you use it to make money to maintain your lifestyle. Car enthusiasts spend their money so they can enjoy the lifestyle they choose. ‘Not in my back yard’ springs to mind.
    You have been elected to serve all the people of Shetland, not to impose your personal preferences on the islands and its inhabitants.

  • Wayne Bryant

    • November 28th, 2012 17:58

    The matter of Jonathans tours being pointless is just that, an opinion. I personally don’t see the attraction in it but does it make it wrong? No, it certainly doesn’t.
    I could say that the fuel burnt in the boat is just for the kicks of those wanting to take in the isles from a different perspective. (But I’m not!)
    It’s not so different from the members of SMC, it’s just our thing.
    I see this as a very two sided, and people need to see the bigger picture.
    The comment regarding ‘supercharged young roadhogs making handbrake turns on Victoria Pier and burning rubber along the Esplanade’. This is something Ryan or the police cannot change. Those people are responsible for their actions, and them alone. Ryan and the team promote the ‘Keep the racing to the track, not on the road’ attitude and try to provide the means for them guys and girls to do that.
    Let the guys and girls have somewhere safe and controlled for them to enjoy their hobbies, and those with a problem with it. Rather than just opposing it, come with a solution and work through it together.
    Best of luck to the SMC team with the track days, and maybe I’ll manage to join you on the strip soon.

  • John Tulloch

    • November 28th, 2012 20:35

    Unsure whether you’re referring to me as one of the “angrier” correspondents however I did commit a genuinely inadvertent, if fortuitous, typo when I wrote your name in my comment above.

    For the record, I’m not angry at all. As I’ve said elsewhere I’m “disappointed” that this is all a person of your intelligence and indeed political power and influence, can find to rant on about when there are issues of far greater concern to Shetland residents and Council Tax payers.

    I am further disapponted that you are attempting to follow up in the same vein and it invites the suspicion that you are attempting to divert attention from issues of genuine concern by affronting various susceptible parties to draw them into bickering about unimportant issues.

    Some issues I consider more important, non-exhaustively, include;

    1. Neither the £6.3m handed to VE by Shetland Charitable Trust (SCT), nor other moneys which may subsequently follow will earn a crust until at least 2020.

    2. Progress on SCT’s own wind farm health impact assessment – forced on them by bitter contention over the VE “revoke” – is due to be discussed at the December meeting of SCT. You have alluded elsewhere that progress may be slow.

    3. The effect of council cuts.

  • S V Jolly

    • November 29th, 2012 10:19

    @ Janet, Cats Protection

    In 2010, Cats Protection, the UK charity’s income was in excess of £35 million. If the charity genuinely had the moggies’ best interests at heart, I’m sure they could purchase the cattery and install sufficient double-glazing and/or Acoustalay sound proofing.


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