21st February 2020
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Tour operator loses appeal over Eshaness steps

A tour operator says it is considering stopping sending bus trips to a popular North Mainland destination after councillors unanimously turned down an appeal to a retrospective planning application for concrete steps at Eshaness.

Elected members sat as a review body on Monday after Island Vista took a stand against the refusal.

Business partner in the tourism business Jolene Garriock insisted some 7,500 people had used the steps since they were erected without incident.

She said problems highlighted with the steps would not take too much effort to put right.

But that was not enough to stop elected members putting the kibosh on the plans.

The review heard the precast concrete steps and kee-klamp handrail were an “incongruous feature” in the area, some 457 metres from the Eshaness Lighthouse.

The meeting also heard they posed a health and safety risk – that’s despite claims by the applicant that the steps were erected to help prevent elderly tourists visiting the area from falling over on a grassy slope.

Lerwick councillor Malcolm Bell insisted: “My view is that we probably have to refuse.”

Fellow town member Cecil Smith said Northmavine Community Council should have been consulted.

South Shetland councillor, George Smith, stressed he felt sympathy for Island Vista, but added: “I have to agree with Councillor Bell in terms of the process this has gone through.”

Speaking after the meeting, Ms Garriock told The Shetland Times: “I’m very disappointed, but they’ve done what they felt they needed to do, so we just need to go with that.”

She said the company had committed to putting tours to Northmavine during 2020, but insisted doubts hung over 2021.

“We will have to decide whether we’re going to make a further application or cease putting tours to that part of Shetland.”

About Ryan Taylor

Ryan Taylor has worked as a reporter since 1995, and has been at The Shetland Times since 2007, covering a wide variety of news topics. Before then he reported for other newspapers in the Highlands, where he was raised, and in Fife, where he began his career with DC Thomson. He also has experience in broadcast journalism with Grampian Television. He has lived in Shetland since 2002, where he harbours an unhealthy interest in old cars and motorbikes.

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One comment

  1. Geoff Leask

    Sir,
    This is a ridiculous decision by our elected representatives.
    Indeed how many of them (Bell, Smith et. al.) have actually been to Eshaness and experienced the relief when they realise that someone had the “midder wit” to assist them, and our visitors, up and down a (potentially) guttery slope.
    I (and indeed we, because 45% of my friends agree on this) suggest that the Shetland public should be allowed to decide on this issue.
    We suggest you take one half of your hard-copy, printed, Shetland Time’s pages to give your readership a say on this issue. Page 7 would suffice.
    Geoff Leask et. al. Lerwick

    Reply

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