Campaign launched by Shetland Islanders to construct tunnel links
Residents of the Shetland Islands are hoping to push forward plans to construct subsea tunnels to improve transport across the Scottish islands.
The calls come amid concerns about disrupted ferry services due to poor weather and an ageing fleet which has led to local and political support for tunnel construction.
A new campaign on Shetland has raised £100,000 to study the prospect of building tunnels to Unst and Yell.
The initial donations for the work have come from Unst spaceport and the North Yell Development Council, The Times reports.
Graham Hughson, the Yell Tunnel Action Group chairman, hopes to show the tunnels are “technically and economically achievable”. He said: “This project seeks to lay the foundations for the tunnel infrastructure which, if successful, will breathe new life into the island communities, support economic and social development, and deliver a reliable, sustainable transport system for residents, businesses, and visitors.
“By creating this permanent infrastructure, we can help the islands achieve their true potential, fostering economic prosperity, improving the quality of life for islanders, and promoting a sustainable future.”
Alec Priest, the chairman of the Unst Tunnel Action Group, stressed that inter-island ferry capacity is regularly constrained at peak operating hours, routes can be affected by weather and there has been difficulty in attracting enough crew to run the fleet.
He added: “Running costs, maintenance, and replacement of vessels comes at an increasingly high price to the public purse. The proposed subsea tunnels will not only mitigate these challenges but also provide a reliable and efficient transport solution that ensures uninterrupted connectivity, irrespective of weather conditions.
“Additionally, this initiative will, in the long term, significantly reduce carbon emissions, promoting environmental sustainability and preserving the natural beauty of the islands.”
The groups believe they need to raise £250,000 for the first phase of the work and have opened a crowdfunding page for donations.
A second phase, where a further £250,000 would need to be found, would include boring holes to sample soil and rock in area where a tunnel could be built.