Campers and caravanners will soon be searching for a new home after Shetland Recreational Trust agreed to sell the Clickimin campsite to make way for the new Anderson High School.
Discussions had been opened in October after it became clear that building on the campsite was potentially the cheapest option for the council. Trustees agreed in principle to sell the land to the SIC at a meeting on Wednesday night.
The SRT said it had been working closely with the council to help make the new £36 million AHS project a reality. Negotiations about using the Clickimin Leisure Complex for the school’s PE lessons are “well developed”.
This autumn the Scottish Government pledged two-thirds of the funding towards a new school and halls of residence. It is hoped construction work could start as soon as 2014.
Following Wednesday’s meeting SRT general manager James Johnston said: “Trustees have now approved the sale of the campsite to Shetland Islands Council. The terms of that sale have yet to be agreed and we will seek to make progress on that shortly.”
Mr Johnston said the trust was not in a position to provide a campsite in an alternative location.
He explained that income from the campsite – £27,376 in 2011 and £21,363 for the first nine months of 2012 – was barely enough to cover the site’s operating costs.
“Moving to another site outwith Clickimin’s boundaries would require dedicated staff and turn this into a loss-making activity for us.”
Bookings will be taken for the campsite up until the end of September 2013. Mr Johnston said the trust hoped another provider would step into the breach.
The impending loss of the campsite has prompted dismay from the Shetland Caravan Club.
Gordon Laurenson, who started the club with his wife Brenda more than 10 years ago, was its first chairman.
The club “just took off” and now has over 100 members, many of whom regularly use the Clickimin site.
“It’s not only tourists who come and spend money in Shetland,” he said. “Locals use it at weekends and for festivals. The site isn’t big enough at times.
“By having staff at Clickimin they didn’t need a warden for the site. It’s a shame, it will be a big loss to the local caravanners. You can’t not have a caravan site in Lerwick.”
Mr Johnston said the trust had inherited the campsite and invested “heavily” in its development and maintenance over the years.
“Construction of the shower block, major ground works and upgrading from four to 20 caravan stands has taken time and money.“We have been happy to operate the campsite, but it is not a core part of the trust’s activities. We hope that another provider can step forward.”