Tunnel groups raise £120k in six weeks 

Action groups have already secured a six-figure sum to lay the groundwork for tunnels – with hopes to progress the project as “swiftly as possible”.

The Yell and Unst Tunnel Action Groups confirmed today (Tuesday) their total pledges have reached £120,000 in just six weeks – with some donations yet to be announced. 

Members have thanked everyone for the help – and pledged to push ahead at speed.

Yell Tunnel Action Group’s joint chairman Graham Hughson said the funding would support investigations to demonstrate tunnels were technically and economically achievable, thereby assisting the SIC in taking the project to the next stage.

“We cannot sit back and watch our islands decline due to ageing and increasingly unreliable ferries,” he added.

“We need to work together to get replacement infrastructure in place to keep the islands alive for generations to come.”

The groups have also welcomed the news that the UK government’s Scottish secretary Alistair Jack has agreed to meet the SIC to discuss interisland connectivity.

As reported yesterday, the council has invited the UK and Scottish governments to a summit on the Shetland Short Crossings Project, which seeks to replace every ferry with either a new vessel or a tunnel.

The SIC said its project was already at an “advanced stage” – highlighting the £700,000 it had committed to develop business cases for the tunnels.

It is looking to progress four tunnels serving Unst, Yell, Whalsay and Bressay.

Unst Tunnel Action Group’s joint chairman Duncan Gray thanked the council for its work in seeking funding.

However, the groups have also stressed their own fundraising efforts are separate from the SIC’s investment – though their work will hopefully complement one another.

Mr Gray said the group’s work was focussed on the necessary geo-technical investigations, socio-economic and environmental impact work.

He said these investigations could be fed into council’s transport connectivity strategy to help to “drive the project forward”.

The action groups are currently working with the SIC to to formalise a stakeholder group which will guide the development and appraisal of the inter-island transport connectivity business case.

Additionally, three group chairmen have organised a self-funded trip to the Faroe Islands later this month to learn from their experiences of tunnels and understand how the project can be progressed in the most efficient and financially viable manner. 

This will also include discussions about the impact which tunnels have had on their islands with communities who have completed such developments.

Visit shetlandtunnels.co.uk to find out more or www.crowdfunder.co.uk/p/unst-yell-tunnel-action-groups-fundraiser-1 to donate.


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