Dear Orkney News,
Democracy, with it’s lifeblood of accountability, is a muscle which requires constant exercise to keep it supple and healthy. Within the National Islands Plan there is provision for Island Community Impact Assessments (ICIAs) to ascertain the likely effects of a planned action by a public or publicly funded body on the communities of the Highlands and Islands.
Having read through the Plan a question arises, can members of the public request that an ICIA be carried out? I have written to the Scottish Government minister Paul Wheelhouse to ask for clarification of this question.
Two recent events have piqued my interest in this subject:
(1) Highlands and Islands Airports Ltd announced that they intended to centralise air traffic control for northern Scotland at Inverness Airport. This plan will obviously remove well remunerated employment from numerous communities, but will also possibly impact on the safe operation of the airports affected. HIAL subsequently announced that they would carry out an ICIA into their plan, but would definitely be implementing the centralisation plan. This to my mind seems rather back to front.
(2) As part of the Islands Deal, Orkney Islands Council (OIC) are planning a massive investment in support services for the Liquified Natural Gas(LNG) industry. As OIC plus the Scottish and UK Governments have declared a Climate Emergency, with commitments to rapidly decarbonise our society, I cannot see how planning to invest in support services for the LNG industry is in anyway compatible with this commitment.
As we head towards the 2021 Holyrood election I would urge everyone who is eligible, to register and to vote. All elections are important, but given the current turmoil we are living through, this election is especially so. I would also urge folk to give very serious consideration to voting for the Scottish Green Party. The Scottish Greens have consistently highlighted the failure of local democracy in Scotland to meet the real needs of citizens, and will continue to push for meaningful reorganisation to take place.
Jon Southerington, Orkney
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