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Scottish Government consultation misses major shipping links between Orkney and Aberdeen

Orkney Harbour Authority building
Orkney Harbour Authority building

Orkney’s harbour authority has replied to a Scottish Government consultation reminding them of the important shipping routes between Orkney, Shetland and Aberdeen.

The isles harbour authority has said there are major omissions in the consultation for the National Planning Framework 4 (NPF4) documents.

The National Planning Framework is a long-term plan that looks at where development and infrastructure are required. Specifically, NPF4 looks at how Scotland can deliver sustainable, productive, distinctive, and liveable places.

It also looks into Scottish planning policy and housing.

However, at a meeting of Orkney council’s harbour authority sub-committee on Tuesday, councillors approved the authority’s response to the NPF4 consultation.

Their reply points out that a map in the consultation has completely missed out maritime links from Orkney to Shetland and Aberdeen.

Councillor Rob Crichton said: “Having read through the harbours response it is very fair.

“Shocking is not too strong a word for the omissions in the publication. I don’t think we’re being unreasonable in any manner.”

Councillor Rob Crichton

‘Shocking is not too strong a word’

The harbour authority also points out that the “vast majority of the investment” expected to come from the plans will be in the central belt and north-east.

The Orkney authority says the consultation document appears to be this way because of a lack of information about developments in the north. However, the harbour authority says they provided plenty of information when it was asked for at an earlier stage.

Issue was also taken with grouping Orkney into the north and west innovation area. This group also includes the Western Isles, the west coast and Shetland.

The map from the NPF4 consultation document which Orkney Harbour Authority says omits Orkney’s shipping links with Aberdeen and Shetland.

The harbour authority says this fails to show the “strategic importance of Orkney’s harbours” and links to the north-east.

The response suggests that the information used for NPF4 seems to have been taken from the Island Growth Deal and doesn’t take other plans for the future into account.

These would include the approved Orkney Harbours Masterplan Phase 1.

Orkney Harbour Authority goes on to say that the contribution of Orkney’s harbours to helping Scotland meet net-zero carbon-based economy goals “appears to have been totally ignored.”

Contribution to net-zero carbon goals ‘completely ignored’ says harbour authority

It also points to a “serious error” where the only harbour detail in the report concerns Aberdeen Harbour.

Orkney’s harbour authority says a document relating the islands harbours should be included.

As such, it feels the opportunities for the county haven’t been recognised.

A Scottish Government spokesman replied: “The draft NPF4 is now open to consultation.

“We want to have an informed and lively conversation about how Scotland will need to develop. This includes supporting its island communities on their journey to net-zero by 2045.

“This is a great opportunity for people from all over Scotland to help shape the country’s future.

“We encourage all those with an interest to contribute to the consultation process, building on the draft spatial strategy and national developments to help us refine the content of NPF4.”

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