Shetland Islands Council cannot be seen to “shy away” from tackling climate change in the isles, ZetTrans lead officer Michael Craigie told their committee on Thursday.
His comments came amid a debate following a report on the action ZetTrans had taken in the past year to combat climate change, which is presented annually to the Scottish government.
With the new five-year bus contract also up for consideration at Thursday morning’s meeting, the prospect of electric or hybrid buses was brought up by councillor Davie Sandison.
Mr Craigie told him that those buses “will come at a cost” to the SIC, one which they could ill afford just now. ZetTrans had made a “conscious choice” not to explore the opportunity to purchase any hybrid or electric buses during the contract process because of the significant “financial constraints” that they were under.
North Isles councillor Alec Priest made the point that any electric or hybrid mode of transport used in Shetland currently is being powered by a “diesel burning power station”, and that should be taken into consideration by the council.
Transport policy officer Robina Barton told the committee that she expects next year’s report on climate change to be “far more interesting”, with awareness of what authorities need to do to mitigate the rise of climate change issues becoming part of the public conscious.
Mr Craigie said that ZetTrans needed to set an example for the rest of Shetland to follow. He said the organisation “need to do a lot more” to influence a “behaviour change” in the isles, and to encourage people to change their attitudes towards green transport.
Chairman Ryan Thomson said that he, and council leader Steven Coutts, had met with local climate activists this week to discuss ways in which the council could make a positive climate impression, with transport at the forefront of those discussions.
The new five-year bus contract was approved by ZetTrans members on Thursday morning, and will go before a full council meeting on Thursday afternoon.