It was a project which has already cost £9million but it has now been confirmed that the fiasco around HIAL’s Remote Towers has led to a cancellation of the tendering process in its development.
In response to a question by Orkney Constituency MSP, Liam McArthur, Scottish Government Transport Minister Graeme Dey confirmed that procurement has been cancelled.
Graeme Dey said:
“HIAL’s Air Traffic Management 2030 Strategy (ATMS) is a long-term programme consisting of numerous different individual projects. Some of these projects include one or more procurement exercises. Across the programme as a whole some procurement exercises have concluded, some are ongoing and some have not started yet.
“Following the announcement of the joint agreement between HIAL and Prospect to establish a new way forward, HIAL contacted those companies involved in the Remote Tower procurement to confirm that the tender exercise had been cancelled. HIAL felt it would be inappropriate and unfair to expect tenderers to remain engaged in the procurement process in circumstances where the timescale for, and scope and extent of possible future remote air traffic provision is unclear.”
HIAL’s plans to centralise air traffic control in a remote tower in a building in Inverness, removing the controllers from the islands, has been deeply unpopular and discredited from the start. It is thanks to the efforts of those citizens who took the issue before the Public Petitions Committee of the Scottish Parliament that the project and its serious faults were highlighted to politicians.
Commenting on the news, Liam McArthur said:
“For years, HIAL and SNP Ministers insisted that centralisation was the only option for modernising air traffic services across the Highlands and Islands. That was never the case and finally the government and HIAL have been forced to come clean.
“Confirmation by the Minister that the ‘remote tower’ procurement has been cancelled is welcome. It comes, however, only after millions in public funds have been spent on an ill-conceived vanity project opposed across parties and the communities most directly affected.
“No-one disputes the need to modernise air traffic services, which support operations on our lifeline air routes. Sadly, months and millions have been wasted by SNP Ministers and HIAL on a centralisation that was never going to get off the ground.”