SNP delegates at their Aberdeen Conference have backed a proposal for a regional forum with neighbouring countries such as Ireland, Wales, the Faroe Islands and Norway to share ideas and best practices for improving connectivity in the islands and rural areas, including tunnels.
Speaking at the recent SNP Conference, Robert Leslie candidate for Orkney and Shetland, said that there must be a place for catamarans in plans to replace Orkney’s ageing internal ferry fleet.
While ‘astronomical price tags’ for ferry replacements had been banded about, Mr Leslie said there was ‘a cheaper, more efficient and environmentally sustainable solution on the horizon’.
“Orkney’s Churchill Barriers already prove that fixed links keep communities alive.
“Looking further north, we can see that tunnels might also play a part in ensuring our islands thrive rather than survive.
“Shetland already has plans to link some of its islands with tunnels, and I applaud Shetland Islands Council for presenting their vision and engaging positively with the Scottish and UK governments on this.
Having already spoken about the drivers of rural depopulation, including fuel poverty, which is inextricably linked to transport costs in rural and island areas, Mr Leslie said that the resolution would be crucial in stemming and reversing that trend.
He concluded: “I look forward to Orkney being able to engage in a regional forum to share ideas and best practice on connectivity and have pleasure in seconding this resolution.”
The SNP delegates in Aberdeen were debating a resolution from Paul Anderson of London branch on rural and island connectivity. In his contribution Robert Leslie referred to a recent Orkney International Science Festival (OISF) talk by Professor Alf Baird ‘A New Day for the Ferryman’ which you can read about here:
In his talk at the OISF, Prof Baird, spoke about the cheaper production costs of monohulls and of alternative fuels (electric and hydrogen).
The conference backed the resolution, welcoming the proposed delivery of an Islands Connectivity Plan, and supporting the following measures to improve rural and islands transport connectivity:
- For the Scottish Government to publish a series of short-term (0-6 months), medium-term (6 months – 5 years) and long-term (5 – 20 years) objectives to improve rural and island transport connections.
- To support the creation of a dedicated Scottish Parliament Committee to oversee this progress and provide regular democratic scrutiny.
- To consult with local authorities and devolve further powers to enable them to oversee the development of existing and new transport routes.
- To propose a regional forum with neighbouring countries such as Ireland, Wales, the Faroe Islands and Norway to share ideas and best practices for improving connectivity in the islands and rural areas, including tunnels.
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