Senior members of Shetland Islands Council have been told not to “rule out” the possibility of obtaining European funding, despite last week’s monumental referendum vote in favour of Brexit.
The SIC’s chief executive Mark Boden offered a glimmer of hope during today’s policy and resources committee, as councillors discussed an options appraisal for the fish market in Scalloway.
However, it does raise the spectre of European funding being denied once a British exit from the EU has been put into place.
Last week the council’s harbour board heard a multi-million pound revamp of the market could be progressed, with options ranging from a £2.5 million refurbishment to an alternative new build adjacent to the existing site – which the Harbour Board believes to be the best option – costing £4.5 million.
But in the chamber on Tuesday central ward councillor Vaila Wishart asked whether instructions in a report to explore the possibility of receiving funding from the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund was “dead in the water”.
Mr Boden said that may not necessarily be the case, given that the UK’s exit from the European Union had not yet been progressed.
“It’s too early to say,” he told elected members. “Whilst the UK is still a member of the EU it is still entitled to get funding.
“I would suggest we don’t stop asking until we have to.”
The report before members provided a summary of progress in developing an outline business case.
It concluded that further analysis was required before any decision on a preferred option was made by the council.
Earlier, Shetland North member Alastair Cooper said harbour board members had been impressed with the plans, adding that fish markets in Lerwick and Scalloway should complement one another.
“We’re looking to see more fish landed in Shetland,” he told fellow committee members.
Meanwhile, North Isles member Steven Coutts wanted to check that carbon implications were being taken into account.
“Fish is a very carbon-friendly species in comparison to meat,” he said.