Skerries residents back fixed links 

Skerries residents have expressed a deep desire for fixed links – and strongly believe there would be huge benefits in a tunnel between Whalsay and the Mainland.

Fixed links are being deemed as vital to bringing a solution to the declining population on the isles.

Marina Anderson told The Shetland Times that if Skerries did have a fixed link, it would lead to population growth.

She has been left saddened after witnessing Skerries population decline over the years, saying: “It was like everything happened at one time, the salmon company closed and the primary school closed and that was that.

“It just has a domino effect. In a fragile place, every peerie thing makes a huge difference.”

While Skerries may currently have a population of around 35 people, Mrs Anderson stressed Burra was a prime example of how numbers could rise with a fixed link.

“You see Burra, there was just the odd two or three houses there when I was going there for my holidays,” she said.

“When the bridge came, what a difference that made there. You don’t go very far without seeing a house now. But I remember before that, going to Gutterytoon to my auntie Helen’s, and there was hardly a house to be seen on that whole road.”

“I think you [would] get more folk here, it’s a boanie place,” she said. “I love it, but you need to be a good sailor.

“Sometimes when the bairns come here for the summer there’s visitors and yachts in, and it’s just like it was [before].”

Though Mrs Anderson would like a fixed link for Skerries, she was not convinced this would ever happen.

However, she stressed having a fixed link from Whalsay to the Mainland would be a “great benefit”, as Skerries residents could get the ferry to the isle, then use their fixed link to reach the Mainland.

Alice Arthur also agreed a fixed link to Whalsay would benefit the community in Skerries.

“It would all benefit us. My man’s folk is in Whalsay and we share a doctor with Whalsay,” she said.

“But to get there, you have to go to Vidlin, then you have to go to Laxo, then you have to get the ferry in, so it’s a day’s trip before you get the ferries sorted out.

“If it was just fae here to Whalsay, you would basically be on the Mainland [with a tunnel] and you could also get to your doctor.”

Mrs Arthur stressed there are many commuters in Whalsay who are in need of a fixed link.

“There’s an awful lot of folk who work on the Mainland who bides in Whalsay and that will end up being very tiring.

“You’re trying to catch ferries, then the weather isn’t always great and you never know whether it’s going to go from Laxo or Vidlin. It depends on the sea conditions.

“I don’t think there’s any valid argument against it. And once they get going with it and they see what a huge benefit it is, then I’m sure it’ll open minds.” 

Read the full story in this week’s Shetland Times


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