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Fixed links impact on islander identity and culture


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There has been lots of discussion about the financial cost of building and maintaining fixed links to Unst, Yell, Whalsay and Bressay versus the running costs, maintenance and upgrading of the ferries and what this could mean for the islands economically. However, I was wondering if anyone has any views on what fixed links could mean in terms of islander identity and culture? Would they "loose" their island status and the things that make them unique or would it encourage more folk to visit the islands and learn about their interesting past?

 

 

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Given how long the ferries have been with us now, I don't believe moving to tunnels would have much impact at all. I am very much a Yell man, who lives on the mainland purely because of work. If there was a tunnel I would be living in Yell, and I am sure this is true for many other Islanders. Not only will it make things easier for visitors, it will revitalise the Islands populations, and have positive effects on the mainland too as people from the Isles will be able to go to shows, go for meals etc without the restrictions of ferries.

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Look at the impact bridges have had on Burra and Trondra - more folk and more houses but I wonder if some of the older ‘natives’ think it’s all been change for the better? Fewer local services, more unkan folk living there, possibly a sense that it feels no different to anywhere else in the Lerwick ‘commuter belt’ rather than its own ‘self-sufficient’ community? I don’t know but I’d imagine that there’d be a view among some that it has less of a unique ‘identity’ than it used to.

 

Even since the inter-island ferries started, I think the isles too have become a lot less ‘self-sufficient’ with more folk travelling to the Mainland more frequently for work, shopping, events, entertainment etc. That will only happen more if and when fixed links come. The advantages are obvious but I think there will be downsides too that are often overlooked.

 

That all said, I’m not sure Yell, Unst and Whalsay (Bressa is probably the exception) would change the same way that Burra and Trondra have. I just think they’re all still too far from Lerwick to see the same increase in population/housebuilding.

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That all said, I’m not sure Yell, Unst and Whalsay (Bressa is probably the exception) would change the same way that Burra and Trondra have. I just think they’re all still too far from Lerwick to see the same increase in population/housebuilding.

 

The distance between Unst and Lerwick is approximately 55 miles by car. That is a lot quicker than when you have to use a ferry or two, especially when you're in a hurry. No point being in a hurry when you have to wait for a couple of ferries.

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