Shetland misses out on Scottish government fixed link proposals

Concerns have been raised after Shetland was excluded from Scottish government plans for fixed links.

Isles MSP Beatrice Wishart has urged ministers to consider adding Shetland to the proposals.

A Scottish government statement was issued on Thursday which recommended exploring the potential for fixed links for the Outer Hebrides, and for Mull to the Scottish mainland.

But the statement provided in the so-called “second strategic transport projects review” does not mention fixed links for the Northern Isles.

Ms Wishart pointed out to Transport Secretary Michael Matheson that Unst was dependent on ferry travel.

“Fixed link infrastructure could benefit communities in the North Isles, and the space port,” she said.

She asked if fixed links between islands would be added to the Scottish government’s recommendations.

Mr Matheson responded: “As we have set out, we have given a commitment to explore fixed links in the Western Isles and also the Island of Mull to the mainland.

“But no doubt during the course of the consultation we will see representation from communities across the country about other issues.

“But it’s not contained in the existing STPR2 document.”

The exchange comes ahead of a planned community event with Ms Wishart and her Westminster counterpart Alistair Carmichael, which is set to open a public discussion on the future of fixed links in the isles.

Ms Wishart said: “Fixed links could be transformative for Shetland but the voices of the community need to be aired and that is the discussion Alistair Carmichael and I wish to facilitate.

“There could be great advantages to isles communities, and benefits for the fishing and aquaculture industries and, of course, the nationally important Unst space port.

“A public discussion about the challenges, aspirations and varying needs of each island community is important in this infrastructure debate.”

It comes after North Isles councillor Ryan Thomson said he hoped work would begin on fixed links in the next council term.

He said he remained “very disappointed” that fixed links for Shetland had not been included in the Scottish government’s proposals.


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