Concerns Raised on HIAL’s Future Plans for Air Traffic Control

Local communities served by Highlands and Islands Airports Ltd (HIAL) are still very concerned about the recent announcement that it would ‘shelve’ its plans for the Remote Tower Project. Shelved: HIAL’s Remote Towers Project

MSPs today, 2nd February, again examined the issue raised by petitioners on behalf of the Benbecula Community Council, PE1804, to HALT the plans by HIAL.

The Citizen Participation and Public Petitions Committee was joined by local MSPs Liam McArthur (LibDem) and Rhoda Grant (Labour) to add their concerns about the ‘shelving’ of the project as announced by HIAL.

Many questions remain unanswered including:

  • the £9million spent so far
  • the future of New Century House in Inverness and its cost of £3.5 million
  • the use of ‘surveillance radar’
  • the concerns raised by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA)

Liam McArthur also questioned HIAL’s handling of the whole project which has been deeply unpopular from the start and led to industrial action by air traffic controllers.

Rhoda Grant welcomed the pause in the project but raised the ongoing issues of the future for both Benbecula and Wick airports which have their own ambitious future development plans. She said it was not clear from the HIAL statement what was to happen at those airports.

The committee will continue to investigate this long running issue and will write to the CAA for their views. The petitioners and HIAL representatives will also be called upon to give additional evidence. This will include questions about what HIAL plan to do about future staff recruitment.

Fiona Grahame

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