The UK’s most northerly populated island appears to have weathered the immediate impact of an economic storm which blew up when its largest employer shut its doors.
Just three years ago, residents of the Shetland island of Unst were left stunned by news that the Ministry of Defence had decided to pull out of RAF Saxa Vord, an early warning radar base and the centrepiece of the island’s economy since 1957.
At the time, the outlook seemed bleak for the 720 islanders. Well over a hundred service personnel and civilians depended on the base for their employment, while dozens more jobs were supported in the wider community.
When Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) joined forces with Shetland Islands Council to set up the Unst Response Team in 2005, one of its first actions was to commission an independent economic impact study.
Its conclusions made grim reading. It forecast 172 job losses