Scottish Liberal Democrat and Shetland MSP, Beatrice Wishart, has questioned panellists on fixed links during a Rural Affairs, Islands and Natural Environment (RAINE) Committee session. Raising the spectre of ageing ferries impacting the economies of smaller islands Ms Wishart asked for thoughts on connecting islands by tunnels.
Representatives from Scottish Rural and Islands Transport Community (SRITC) highlighted the possible economic benefits from fixed links, be that bridges or tunnels. SRITC also stated that communities, business and individuals had raised the issue of fixed links exploration during evidence gathering in preparation for the committee session.
Ms Wishart has championed community choice on fixed links during both the 2019 by-election and 2021 Scottish Parliament election.
Commenting after the session Ms Wishart said:
“Fixed links might not be appropriate for every island community and local voices should be key in the decisions that are made.
“We can look to our neighbours in the Faroe Islands and Norway as great examples of connected communities. There is much we can learn from them.
“One thing is clear, there cannot be sustained economic growth without the necessary infrastructure. As long as communities rely on unreliable ferries there will be fragility around their economic and social activity.
“Investment in fixed links now could help secure long-term economic futures.”