Project leaders have been urged to better inform the community as more clean energy initiatives take shape.
Councillors at Monday’s policy and resources committee meeting made repeated calls for communication around the Orion project to become a main priority.
The energy hub project launched in January 2020 to provide affordable, clean energy, support the decarbonisation of oil and gas and secure a prosperous economic future for Shetland.
However, Shetland Central member Moraig Lyall said she felt a “huge swathe” of the community still had “very little understanding” about the project.
The calls came during an Orion update from the SIC’s executive manager for future energy Douglas Irvine.
Announcing a “new phase” for Orion, he said the team was now engaging with developers, including EnQuest, which recently announced it was assessing new energy opportunities at Sullom Voe Terminal.
Following a “ground breaking” economic study, Mr Irvine said Orion’s main focus would now be green hydrogen production.
Mr Irvine also highlighted the Neptune project – a £500,000, UK government funded research initiative led by Strathclyde University to support the marine industry’s transition to zero-carbon fuels.
Shetland Central member Davie Sandison asked what engagement with the seafood sector had taken place as he knew people were “very concerned” about the potential impact on the industry.
Mr Irvine said a “marine group” had been formed and meetings held with Shetland Fishermen’s Association.
He highlighted further engagement work through the creation of a new website and social media presence.
However, Mr Irvine said plans for large community events, similar to those held in the 1970s on emerging oil plans, were not yet ready to go ahead. He said the team was instead looking at hosting virtual events.
Mrs Lyall asked: “Are we just going to live our lives waiting on the possibility that something might happen causing us to cancel?
“There’s nothing in the current regulations that would make such an event impossible and it’s highly preferable to an online engagement.”