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Scottish Transport Minister Avoiding Meeting With Air Traffic Controllers

Scottish Government Transport Minister Graeme Dey

The failure of the Scottish Government Transport Minister Graeme Dey to engage with HIAL’s air traffic controllers has been described as a ‘missed opportunity’ by the trade union representing them.

It was confirmed that Transport Minister Graeme Dey would not be using a two day stay in the Western Isles to engage with the concerns about the controversial remote towers project.

Prospect, which represents air traffic controllers who have recently been on strike over proposals to move jobs from the islands to Inverness, said the failure to meet was a ‘missed opportunity’ and called on the Minister to urgently engage with the issue.

Prospect negotiator David Avery said:

“It disappointing that the minister did not use this opportunity to speak to air traffic staff and local communities about the impact of HIAL’s remote towers plan on individuals and on the economy of the islands.

“Ultimately the Scottish Government have the power to step in and force a rethink on these plans, and it is incumbent on them to listen to the serious concerns that have been raised.

“This missed opportunity makes it even more vital that the minister takes the next available opportunity to meet with Prospect and local politicians to engage with our concerns.”

HIAL is a private company wholly owned by Scottish Ministers.

When in Orkney, Graeme Dey spent time at Kirkwall airport viewing the hybrid plane which had its first flight to the islands, Taking Flight To The Next Level: The Ampaire EEL. He also spent time with Electric Vehicle owners in Kirkwall for an photo op but had no time to meet with air traffic controllers on that visit.

HIAL’s Remote Towers Project has been severely criticised even by their own commissioned Islands Impact Assessment and by the Petitions Committee of the Scottish Parliament. ‘A Pandora’s Box of Unnecessary Risks’ HIAL’s Remote Towers Project

The European Transport Union has also expressed its safety fears about the use of remote technology,

“Given the infancy of the technology, we find it difficult to assure these communities that that service can be provided in the event of bad weather, infrastructural damage or cyber-attack.’’- HIAL’S Remote Towers

And on a visit to Stornoway Labour leader Anas Sarwar took time to listen to the concerns of the air traffic controllers, Labour Leader Calls for Halt to HIAL’s Remote Towers Plan

The SNP/Green Co-operation Agreement means that Scottish Greens will no longer object to the Remote Towers Project and the devastating effect it will have on islands communities. The SNP/Green Deal: An Islands’ Perspective

This is a major shift in the Greens as they had previously also supported a halt to the ill thought out plans.

Fiona Grahame

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