Shetland’s spectacular landscapes, coastal waters and diverse economy make the islands an exceptional place to work in planning services or building control. Discover more about planning careers and the opportunities that come with living and working in Shetland by reading the features below.

Shetland's planning service

Shetland is not all about amazing wildlife and natural beauty (although we have got plenty of that) but is also home to a thriving and diverse economy, making it an ideal place to work as a planner.

The islands provide a strategic hub for a wide range of established and emerging industries including a spaceport in Unst, onshore and offshore renewables, aquaculture, and nationally significant energy projects.

A career in Shetland's planning service could see you working across several of those sectors while living in a spectacular location.

Benefits of working as a planner in Shetland

  • Distant islands allowance and relocation package.
  • Varied workload and excellent career development opportunities.
  • Learn on the job and gain experience working on major developments.
  • A chance to work across a range of island communities.
  • Enjoy a stress-free commute to work.
  • Exceptional work/life balance.

Discover more

If you are intrigued about the chance of working in a beautiful yet vibrant archipelago, then get in touch to learn more.

To discuss the opportunities in the planning service, please contact:

  • Iain McDiarmid, Executive Manager – Planning • 01595 744813 •
  • Shetland Islands Council's human resources service can provide more details about recruitment, including questions regarding relocation – 01595 744032.

Why choose a planning career in Shetland?

  • Dynamic economy

    Shetland is a prosperous place with successful business operating across a range of industries.

    The diverse economy reflects the islands’ maritime heritage with fishing and aquaculture combining to be the biggest industries, but there is also a transformation taking place as Shetland prepares for the transition to clean energy production.

    Ambitious plans to position Shetland as a green energy hub are being developed under the auspices of the ambitious ORION project.

    Throw in the emerging space industry and plans to launch satellites into orbit from Unst, there are many exciting developments which will be progressed in the coming years.

  • Varied work

    The broad economic base leads to a huge variety of work for Shetland Islands Council’s planning department.

    Since the advent of the offshore oil industry in the 1970s there have been many major developments in Shetland. Now the diversification of the economy offers exciting opportunities to be involved in a wide range of work.

    Shetland’s geographic location means the islands are a crucial energy hub for oil renewable and emerging clean energy technologies, as well as oil and gas during the transition.

    The Shetland Gas Plant in the North Mainland opened in 2015 and was among the largest construction projects in Europe at the time it was being built.

    Meanwhile, what will be the UK’s largest onshore wind farm, Viking Energy, is currently under construction.

    The ORION partnership seeks to position Shetland as a green energy island, with proposals to embrace offshore renewable energy generation and repurpose oil and gas facilities in the North Mainland to produce green hydrogen.

    A new space industry is also emerging, with plans to construct a satellite launch station at Lamba Ness in Unst.

    Elsewhere, Shetland’s booming aquaculture and fishing industries mean that coastal and marine planning strategy is increasingly important.

    Away from commerce, proposals to build over 300 homes at Staney Hill in Lerwick are in progress, and a masterplan is being developed to breathe new life into the Knab area of the town, with a mixture of around 140 homes and commercial premises.

  • Career development

    Working as a planner in Shetland will give you many opportunities to gain experience of the wide variety of sectors operating in the islands.

    Shetland Islands Council is a relatively small authority covering the whole gamut of planning work, meaning planners are supported to get involved in a broad and interesting mixture of projects.

    The planning department has a history of supporting staff to develop professional skills and Shetland has led the way in some areas. The authority is at the forefront of developing marine spatial strategies, and Shetland was one of the first councils to create a “Place Plan”, working with the Scalloway community to identify and agree a progressive approach to future developments.

    Staff are encouraged to engage with RTPI events across Scotland to develop their own professional skills, and join and influence professional networks.

  • Supportive environment

    Shetland Islands Council’s planning team has a track record of supporting and encouraging staff to develop their skills. The department has worked with many licentiates helping them become accredited planners. There is an ethos of helping the team grow and ensuring best practice.

    The team is also used to supporting people who make the move to Shetland. Relocation packages often apply and departmental managers are happy to help with questions around housing, education, employment for partners etc.

    Flexible working is part of the culture, and the department is keen to assist with reasonable requests for part-time or remote working.

  • Work/life balance

    With spectacular coastal landscapes, vibrant communities and excellent leisure facilities, Shetland is an exceptional place to live and work.

    From stress-free commutes to lunchtime walks along the shoreline, achieving the right work/life balance is achievable here.

    There is plenty to keep you occupied out of work. Shetland is home to eight well-equipped leisure centres, a modern cinema and arts venue, galleries, cafes and some excellent bars and restaurants.

    Communities all around the islands remain active, with the network of community halls hosting many activities.

    If you love the outdoors, you will never grow tired of exploring the beautiful and dramatic locations all around the isles. And with so much wildlife, there’s always a chance you might see an otter or a whale on your lunch break.

Find out more about living and working in Shetland