Con­cern over bid to lure res­i­dents from is­lands

En­ergy gi­ant of­fer­ing re­lo­ca­tion pack­ages to gas plant staff

The Press and Journal (Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire) - - NEWS -

Is­land lead­ers have voiced con­cerns about the pop­u­la­tions of the smaller Shet­land is­lands as it emerged a ma­jor em­ployer is of­fer­ing re­lo­ca­tion pack­ages that could en­cour­age peo­ple to move away.

The is­sue also sparked re­newed calls for “fixed links” – bridges and tun­nels – rather than fer­ries to con­nect the smaller is­lands with the Shet­land Main­land.

Staff who don’t live within a “com­mutable dis­tance” of the Shet­land Gas Plant – as well as new ap­pli­cants – could be tempted to move to Main­land by the of­fer of a sub­stan­tial re­lo­ca­tion pack­age by op­er­a­tor To­tal.

North Isles coun­cil­lor Alec Priest told a meet­ing of trans­port part­ner­ship ZetTrans this week he was “al­most los­ing sleep” over the idea of peo­ple be­ing of­fered money to move out of Unst, Yell and Whal­say.

He claimed the com­pany has is­sues with the re­li­a­bil­ity and the timetabling of Shet­land’s in­ter-is­land fer­ries.

A spokesper­son for To­tal con­firmed it is of­fer­ing re­lo­ca­tion pack­ages to staff who “work at the Shet­land Gas Plant but who don’t live within com­mutable dis­tance of it”.

To­tal re­cently ran a re­cruit­ment drive for jobs at the gas plant with a re­lo­ca­tion pack­age to en­cour­age peo­ple to move to Shet­land, but it has been ex­tended to res­i­dents in the North Isles and Whal­say.

Mr Priest said he did not blame To­tal, but called for the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment to im­prove in­fra­struc­ture.

He added: “If we had fixed links then we wouldn’t be in this sit­u­a­tion. I know (ZetTrans chair­man and lead of­fi­cer) Ryan Thom­son and Michael Craigie are lob­by­ing the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment quite hard to get fixed links into the na­tional trans­port strat­egy, as the SIC does need the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment to take re­spon­si­bil­ity for our fu­ture trans­port pro­vi­sion.”

It comes as the is­sue of build­ing a fixed link to Whal­say was raised again this week by res­i­dents.

For­mer Scot­tish trans­port min­is­ter Humza Yousaf agreed in 2016 to look into in­te­grat­ing fixed links into the Na­tional Trans­port Strat­egy Re­view, but there re­mains a lack of clar­ity over the gov­ern­ment’s po­si­tion.

A spokesper­son for To­tal said: “To­tal E&P UK is re­cruit­ing for posts at the Shet­land Gas Plant. These po­si­tions are ad­ver­tised across the UK and as part of en­cour­ag­ing peo­ple to ap­ply we of­fer suc­cess­ful can­di­dates a re­lo­ca­tion pack­age to Shet­land.

“We are also of­fer­ing re­lo­ca­tion pack­ages to other To­tal mem­bers of staff who work at the Shet­land Gas Plant but who don’t live within com­mutable dis­tance of it.”

Mr Thom­son said it was “be­yond be­lief ” the re­lo­ca­tion pack­age could be of­fered to is­lan­ders, adding it was some­thing that should be “whole­heart­edly con­demned”.

Shet­land Gas Plant is look­ing for staff

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