Shetland MSP and Scottish Liberal Democrat, Beatrice Wishart has raised with the Scottish Government the consideration of North Isles fixed-links. A Scottish Government statement issued on Thursday on the second Strategic Transport Projects Review recommended further investigation of potential fixed links for the Outer Hebrides and for Mull and the Scottish Mainland. The statement does not mention fixed links for the Northern Isles.
Citing the last First Minister’s Questions of 2021, where the First Minister recognised the national strategic importance of the Unst Spaceport, Ms Wishart pointed out to the Transport Secretary that Unst is dependent on ferry travel. Wishart said, ‘Fixed link infrastructure could benefit communities in the North Isles and the Spaceport.’ Ms Wishart asked the Cabinet Secretary if fixed links between islands would be added to the Scottish Government’s recommendations and was told that this was not part of the plan.
Ms Wishart has supported community voices regarding fixed links since her by-election campaign in 2019. Ms Wishart will be jointly hosting a community event with Alistair Carmichael MP which is set to open a public discussion on the future of fixed links in Shetland.
After the statement Ms Wishart said:
“I was pleased to see plans to renew and decarbonise lifeline ferries. Vessels do not last forever and new procurement will be required to enable a cleaner, reliable and more accessible ferry service.
“Fixed links could be transformative for Shetland but the voices of the community need to be aired and that is the discussion Alistair Carmichael and I wish to facilitate. There could be great advantages to isles communities, and benefits for the fishing and aquaculture industries and, of course, the nationally important Unst Spaceport.
“A public discussion about the challenges, aspirations and varying needs of each island community is important in this infrastructure debate.”
Notes to Editors
You can watch the exchange here.