“significant unanswered questions” About HIAL’s Remote Towers: Letter to Scottish Transport Minister

MSPs from all the main political parties in Scotland have written a letter to Graeme Dey, the Scottish Government Transport Minister over Highlands and Islands Airports Ltd’s Remote Tower Project.

David Avery, Prospect negotiator representing the air traffic controllers said:

“The refusal of the Scottish Government to engage with this hugely important issue has baffled local communities and left them questioning whether ministers care about the impact of their policies.

“This letter, signed by local and national politicians of all parties, demonstrates the strength of feeling about HIAL’s ill-considered plans to remove high value jobs from the communities they serve.

“The Scottish Government has a duty to listen to the communities affected by this change. Ministers must meet with us as soon as possible so that they we can get on with finding the best way to reform air traffic controls in the Highlands and Islands without causing economic damage.”

This is the letter in full:

Graeme Dey MSP
Minister for Transport
The Scottish Government
St Andrew’s House
Regent Road

Dear Minister,

We the undersigned are a broad coalition of UK and Scottish parliamentarians, Councillors, trade unionists and community members from all political parties and from none, who share significant concerns about the proposals by Highlands and Islands Airport (HIAL) to remove air traffic control staff from several airports across Scotland and centralise this function at Inverness.

We believe that there are significant unanswered questions in relation to these proposals in respect of technological feasibility, economic and social impact, and the availability of appropriate alternatives. These questions remain unanswered despite many of us having engaged with HIAL’s Chief Executive.

This decision impacts some of the most precarious communities in Scotland, it comes at a time when the Scottish Government is consulting on providing direct financial support to families to relocate to these communities. We are concerned that HIAL’s plan would directly undermine the stated policy object of the Scottish Government to encourage people with valuable skills and good jobs to move to the Highlands and Islands. We are further concerned that the way in which HIAL has pursued this project risks undermining the integrity of the Islands Act.

Many of us have sought engagement with yourself and your predecessors on this issue and we are now writing as a group to request a meeting in order that we can convey the strength of feeling on this issue from the communities and people we serve. This decision is as much a political one as an operational one, and we are writing to you to request you meet with us as a matter of some urgency to discuss this situation.

We look forward to your response.

Yours Sincerely,

Garry Graham, Deputy General Secretary, Prospect
Alistair Carmichael MP
Angus MacNeil MP
Jamie Stone MP
Douglas Ross MP, MSP
Beatrice Wishart MSP
Tess White MSP
Mercedes Villalba MSP
Emma Roddick MSP
Rhoda Grant MSP
Liam McArthur MSP
Alasdair Allan MSP
Maggie Chapman MSP
Ariane Burgess MSP
Donald Cameron MSP
Cllr Steven Coutts, Leader of Shetland Council
Cllr James Stockan, Leader of Orkney Council
Cllr Roddie Mackay, Leader Comhairle nan Eilean Siar

Related article: ‘Already Delayed and Over Priced’ MSPs Consider HIAL’s Remote Towers Project

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