Scottish Liberal Democrat MSP for Shetland and rural affairs spokesperson Beatrice Wishart led the Scottish Parliament’s first ever debate on fixed links today with proposals to transform how Scotland’s island and rural communities are connected.
Highlighting Shetland’s unique geography within the UK and other communities in Scotland that could benefit from tunnels and bridges, Wishart underlined how upfront costs would pay off in the long run when compared with several ferry replacement rounds.
Earlier this year, Ms Wishart visited the Faroe Islands to see their tunnel infrastructure and to discuss their success with representatives from the Faroese Government. The newest tunnel in the Faroe Islands, due to open this month, will mean that almost 90% of the population and 18 islands are connected.
In the debate Ms Wishart said:
“From our online meeting in February 2022, the development of TAGs [Tunnel Action Groups] and their work for geo-physical surveys, and Shetland Islands Council funding the development of the business case ‘Shetland plc’ is working together to investigate whether tunnels can become a reality.
“And that co-operation of working together extends to Shetland’s engagement with both the Scottish and UK Governments.
“Tunnels have an initial price tag but will pay off in the long term when compared with several cycles of ferry replacements.
“Where communities make the case for tunnels, we should look beyond the next 20 years and invest in the future.”
After the debate Ms Wishart said:
“This was the first debate in Parliament about fixed links and a good opportunity to promote the potential for short subsea tunnels.
“It was also good to hear perspectives from across Scotland and the opportunities tunnels, bridges and causeways could provide to communities elsewhere.
“I hope the well-attended session is a sign of things to come.
“The Faroe Islands are famous for having the first subsea roundabout. There’s an opportunity for Scotland to learn from the political will demonstrated by the Faroese to connect their communities.
“Investment today in 21st century sustainable transport connections could pay dividends in the future.”
Notes to Editors
Ms Wishart’s full speech can be seen here.