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Introduction of car parking charges delayed

THE INTRODUCTION of controversial car parking charges at Sumburgh Airport has been postponed by up to six weeks so that airport operator Highlands and Islands Airport Limited (HIAL) can re-configure the layout for car park barriers.

Work to install the barriers and ticket machines was temporarily halted earlier this month after concerns over road safety were raised.

In response, the chairman of the Shetland Islands Council’s transport and environment committee Ryan Thomson called on new islands minister Paul Wheelhouse to use the delay and instruct government-owned HIAL to pause the implementation of the £3 a day car parking charge until a proper impact assessment has been carried out.

HIAL managing director Inglis Lyon said the decision to postpone had been made to ensure all works were fully compliant with regulations and address technical requirements relating to positioning and road safety.

“Following extensive and constructive consultation between our infrastructure team and SIC officers we have agreed revisions to the car parking design at Sumburgh,” he said.

“Unfortunately, this will mean a delay to the introduction of between four and six weeks. The revised design will now be programmed in and we anticipate the car parking charges will be implemented by mid-August.”

Councillor Thomson said: “While I understand talks are continuing between HIAL and the planning department on a separate issue, I urge the new Islands Minister to use this time to instruct HIAL to immediately pause the implementation of car parking charges indefinitely while a full island impact assessment is undertaken.

“Shetland Islands Council is ready and willing to assist in this process. It is simply not fair we see yet another tax on island living while HIAL are obligated to significantly subsidise Dundee airport which is in such close proximity to other international airports.

“These charges are unfair on Shetlanders, the only right to do is halt until further notice until the full impact is understood on our lifeline service.”

Car parking charges at HIAL’s airports at Stornoway and Kirkwall will be operational from Sunday (1July).