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.”