Shetland to challenge ‘bureaucratic barriers’ hindering fixed links

Transport chiefs are working to overcome the “bureaucratic barriers” to achieving fixed links in Shetland.

The SIC’s head of transport Michael Craigie is working on a report on why governments need to reconsider their approach to tunnels.

Addressing last night’s Association of Shetland Community Councils meeting, Mr Craigie said current funding methodology was unfavourable to fixed links.

The SIC had been hoping to secure funding through Transport Scotland’s Strategic Projects Transport Review Two, however Mr Craigie said this was no longer an option.

Instead, he highlighted the Islands Connectivity Plan which launches this summer, looking at transport projects in Shetland, Orkney, the Western Isles and other council areas with islands.

Although full details are not yet known, Mr Craigie said early discussions with Transport Scotland had been held to emphasise the case for including fixed links and inter-islands ferries.

Representatives of island communities, including MPs, ZetTrans chairman Ryan Thomson and Mr Craigie met last week for the first time as part of plans to engage governments to better understand the importance of fixed links.

Mr Craigie’s report which aims to challenge the conventions and traditions of islands infrastructure will be presented to the group’s next meeting in August.

He said that while the council had a formal policy committed to adopting fixed links as an alternative to ferries, it always came up with “blockages” when it came to determining the funding.

“There’s no question you can build tunnels anywhere in Scotland,” he said.

“The issue is the way the projects are assessed as viable at government level and that’s were the blockages lies.

“It’s not the council and it’s not the officers – its these bureaucratic barriers.”


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