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Motion calls for halt on airport car parking charge

The Sumburgh Airport car park. Photo: Hans J Marter/Shetland News

A MOTION is due to be presented at next week’s full meeting of Shetland Islands Council urging Highlands and Islands Airports Ltd (HIAL) to halt its proposed car park charge at Sumburgh Airport.

The motion, signed by interim leader Steven Coutts and transport committee chairman Ryan Thomson, says the implementation of the £3 a day charge should be stopped until an “islands impact assessment” is carried out on the proposal.

The airport operator must also “demonstrate the alternatives [it] considered to provide a balanced budget”.

HIAL announced in March without any consultation that it plans to introduce a £3 a day fee at its Sumburgh, Kirkwall and Stornoway airports from July, prompting criticism from the public and politicians.

It has often been raised that the south mainland bus service does not link into the flight schedule and only departs from Lerwick.

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.

The motion, due to be presented to councillors on 9 May, says “Shetland Islands Council expresses its extreme disappointment” that no consultation was undertaken by HIAL prior to its announcement.

“The council believes the proposal will have a disproportionally negative impact on Shetland residents and calls for an islands impact assessment,” it continues.

It adds that the council “calls on the transport and islands minister for his support to ensure that this happens”.

HIAL is currently undertaking surveys of passengers at the three airports, while a questionnaire can also be filled in at home.

In response to the motion, a HIAL spokesperson said: “We continue to survey airport users, are talking to stakeholders and listening to views within the communities.”

The car parking charges, meanwhile, will be discussed during a debate at the Scottish Parliament next week.