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Airport car parking charges to be debated by MSPs

THE INTRODUCTION of car parking charges at airports in Sumburgh, Kirkwall and Stornoway will be debated at the Scottish Parliament next week.

The debate, which was secured by Shetland MSP Tavish Scott, will take place on 10 May.

Highlands and Islands Airports Ltd (HIAL) announced in March without any consultation that it plans to introduce a £3 a day fee at the airports from July, prompting criticism from the public and politicians.

HIAL managing director Inglis Lyon previously said the government-owned company was under “increasing budgetary constraints”.

Transport minster Humza Yousaf visited Shetland on Friday and he said a car parking charge was the “only option” to avoid cuts at the loss-making Sumburgh Airport.

Scott said: “This debate allows parliament to give its views on the iniquitous policy of HIAL to introduce an air tax on islanders.

“I expect that MSPs across the parties will want to express their disappointment that HIAL plan to impose these charges without any consultation.

“We know the HIAL board has no island representative and therefore have no clue about island life. So I still hope that the transport minister can accept this is a bad and wrong policy and it should be dropped.”

HIAL has said that since 2012 the company has provided around £35 million in revenue and capital funding to operate Sumburgh Airport.

As a result of growing passenger numbers going through Sumburgh, the airport has reduced its operating deficit from around £2 million in 2012/13 to £500,000 in the last financial year.

Meanwhile, HIAL is allowing the public to take a survey on the proposed car parking charges. It can be downloaded here and needs to be completed by 14 May.

They are to be returned via email to info@hial.co.uk or by post to Shelly Donaldson CPS, HIAL Head Office, Inverness Airport, Inverness IV2 7JB.