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Locals encouraged to speak up about car park charge

Tavish Scott (left) and Ryan Thomson have again teamed up to put pressure on HIAL over its proposed car park charge.

LOCAL people, businesses and organisations have been encouraged to make their voices heard on controversial plans to introducing a car parking charge at Sumburgh Airport.

Isles MSP Tavish Scott and Shetland Islands Council transport committee chairman Ryan Thomson have called on the public to contact airport operator Highlands and Islands Airport Ltd (HIAL) directly about the plans.

HIAL has been contacted for comment.

Those parking at Sumburgh will incur a £3 a day fee from 1 July as HIAL looks to recoup the £8 million it has invested in refurbishing the airport.

Fees will also be introduced at its airports in Kirkwall and Stornoway.

The government-owned HIAL has come under fire for failing to consult on the proposals before announcing them in March.

It previously said it would be “willing to take on board representations and will listen to stakeholder groups that raise specific issues and will act where appropriate.”

Opponents to the plans have pointed to how the bus timetable does not link into the Sumburgh Airport’s flight schedule and that the airport is some 25 miles away from Lerwick.

Scott and Thomson, who are also due to meet Scottish transport and islands minister Humza Yousaf on the matter, said a “strong no” should be issued by the people of Shetland on the plans.

It follows a recommendation by council convener Malcolm Bell that Shetland’s community councils should voice their concerns.

“Ryan and I would urge people across Shetland to send an unambiguous message to Highlands and Islands Airports Ltd,” Scott said.

“That message is no, we do not and will not accept the imposition of car parking charges at Sumburgh Airport. HIAL originally said they did not have time to consult. Now they say they are consulting. But on what?

“So we ask everyone who would be affected by these charges to write or email HIAL. A strong no to these proposals must be listened to both by HIAL and the Scottish Government’s transport minister.”

Thomson added that HIAL has “treated the people of Shetland with contempt” during the process so far.

“They have not discussed or consulted with politicians, the council or more importantly the users of the airport on the implementation of car parking charges, which will add an additional burden on users who are already paying inflated costs simply to get on and off the islands,” he said.

“These proposals were thrown out back in 2010 after consultation recognised that a parking charge would simply be unfair for the vast majority of those travelling to the airport.

“A simple, formal consultation this time round would have highlighted exactly the same issues and suggested, once more, that these charges were unfair and unjust. It’s telling that HIAL decided not to conduct a formal consultation this time round.

“I would urge anyone who is opposed to these charges and feel that introducing them on our lifeline service is unfair, to contact HIAL as soon as possible and let them know.”

Scott and Thomson encouraged the public to get in touch with HIAL by emailing info@hial.co.uk or by writing to Head Office, Inverness Airport, Inverness, Scotland, IV2 7JB.