Beatrice Wishart MSP today called on the Scottish Government to ensure that the National Islands Plan is backed up with adequate resources to meet the needs of island communities, having raised in Parliament the issue of road infrastructure in Shetland. Improving transport services is a strategic objective of the Proposed National Islands Plan.
Ms Wishart asked the Transport Secretary what support will come from the Plan to help fund rural road upgrades in Shetland as several roads have been identified as requiring upgrades.
The Minister replied that the transport connectivity is being addressed through the National Transport Strategy, currently at draft stage, but that it is up to local authorities to make any improvements.
Earlier today, Island Minister, Paul Wheelhouse appeared before the Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee’s evidence session on the Plan. Mr Wheelhouse was questioned on the lack of detail in the plan and the lack of clarity on funding that will be available to fulfil the 13 strategic objectives.
Ms Wishart said:
“The Islands Act and the National Islands Plan should be transformational for island communities but I am concerned that the Government has produced a plan without the necessary detail or resources to live up to its aims.
“The Islands Plan is supposed to sit beside the National Transport Strategy but we need to see the detail of what that means in practice.
“Transport links underpin many issues in the Shetland, so it’s essential that infrastructure improvements are at the forefront as the Plan is developed and implemented. Driving in Shetland is often the only way to access services, especially in rural areas.”