Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

Whalsay to Shetland tunnel faces the axe

Plans for an £83M tunnel linking the island of Whalsay to the mainland of Shetland will be scrapped unless costs can be significantly reduced or a subsidy can be found by Shetland Island Council.

A report by the council’s head of finance Graham Johnston today went before its Special Infrastructure Committee, which stated that the prohibitive costs meant that the best value for money option would be to continue relying on the existing ferry service.

The council wants to build a 6.3km long drill and blast tunnel, which it had hoped would cost only £35M. However, a study by its Infrastructure Services Department has concluded that this would be “entirely unrealistic”.

It believes the tunnel would cost between £10,000 and £11,000 per metre based on a comparison with costs of tunnelling in Norway, which commonly uses drill and blast tunnelling and spends an average of £9,500 per metre on the technique.

This estimation puts the cost of building the Whalsay tunnel alone at between £64M and £70M. Connecting roads would cost an extra £8M with site investigations and design fees adding another £5M.

The scheme had been seen as a potential cost-effective alternative to the existing ferry link which is due to retire from service in five years.

It is the second low-cost tunnel being proposed to link mainland Shetland with outlying islands – a 1.2km drill and blast tunnel to link to the Isle of Bressay was estimated to cost as little as £34M (NCE 21 January).

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Please note comments made online may also be published in the print edition of New Civil Engineer. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.