Scottish Liberal Democrat and Shetland’s MSP, Beatrice Wishart, raised the issue of fixed links as a means to help prevent islands depopulation with the Culture Secretary at General Questions today (Thursday). Referencing the Faroese experience of tunnels, the Culture Secretary said he would be happy to meet with Wishart to discuss the matter.
Wishart and Northern Isles MP for Orkney and Shetland, Alistair Carmichael, hosted an event in February this year, Tunnel Vision, which has reignited a decades-old conversation about infrastructure and fixed links between islands in Shetland. A representative from Landsverk, the agency that oversees transport connections in Faroe, presented the experience of the Faroe Islands as they embarked on their tunnels projects.
Wishart and Carmichael will host further events in the summer to listen to the voices in the isles about tunnels.
Last week Wishart hosted the Head of Representation for the Faroe Islands to the UK in the Scottish Parliament.
Wishart also met with the Transport Minister earlier this week raising questions about Serco NorthLink freight and passenger services, and Loganair performance. Wishart also asked about fixed links in the isles. The Transport Minister is to write back to Wishart about the multiple transport challenges facing islanders which she raised at the meeting.
After the exchange Ms Wishart said:
“I am grateful to the Culture Secretary for his offer of a meeting. Depopulation in the islands is a serious challenge and it must be addressed if we are to retain the unique communities across the isles in Shetland.
“I believe that tunnels would be of great benefit to communities, encouraging economic growth, while more connectivity could help families with education and health needs, and help maintain populations. But residents’ voices should be at the heart of infrastructure conversations, and I look forward to hearing those views from across the isles during the summer Tunnel Vision meetings.
“I look forward to meeting with the Culture Secretary and I hope that this will be a fruitful conversation. Support from the Scottish Government would be a big step forward in realising new fixed links in Shetland.”
Notes to Editor
You can watch the exchange here.