GR Direct - Sony - Save up to £300 on selected Bravia OLED & LED TVs
Monday 27 May 2024
 11.4°C   S Gentle Breeze
Ocean Kinetics - The Engineering Experts

Transport / Cross-party politicians and council leaders write to government over HIAL air traffic control plans

HIAL employs 55 air traffic controllers.

A CROSS party group of MSPs, MPs, council leaders, community members and trade unionists has written to the Scottish Government demanding engagement on the thorny issue of the future of air traffic control in the Highlands and Islands.

Signatories on the letter includes Shetland Islands Council leader Steven Coutts, local MSP Beatrice Wishart and Northern Isles MP Alistair Carmichael.

It revolves around Highlands and Islands Airports Ltd’s (HIAL) divisive plans to centralise air traffic control in Inverness using remote towers, which would see a number of jobs at Sumburgh Airport relocate south.

The Prospect union said the Scottish Government, which owns HIAL “has the power to overrule the plans” but has so far refused to meet the communities affected.

A spokesperson for the union added that “under extreme pressure” the Scottish Government had “finally offered a meeting with the minister more than two months from now”.

Meanwhile the cross-party letter said: “This decision impacts some of the most precarious communities in Scotland, it comes at a time when the Scottish Government is consulting on providing direct financial support to families to relocate to these communities.

“We are concerned that HIAL’s plan would directly undermine the stated policy object of the Scottish Government to encourage people with valuable skills and good jobs to move to the Highlands and Islands.

“We are further concerned that the way in which HIAL has pursued this project risks undermining the integrity of the Islands Act.”

Prospect negotiator David Avery said the letter “demonstrates the strength of feeling about HIAL’s ill-considered plans to remove high value jobs from the communities they serve”.

In late July a one-day strike was held by air traffic controllers in the region, temporarily closing Sumburgh and five other airports.

HIAL has repeatedly defended its plans as a safe way to deliver air traffic services in the future via a “long-term, sustainable solution to address underlying structural air traffic control issues, as well as staff retention and recruitment challenges across many locations”.

Become a supporter of Shetland News

 

Its managing director Inglis Lyon previously said: “Our air traffic controllers are highly-valued colleagues and we will work closely with them as we go through a period of significant change and necessary modernisation in the way air traffic management is delivered.”

Meanwhile Shetland Islands Council’s transport committee chairman Ryan Thomson said he believes island representatives on boards that serve the Highlands and Islands would be a “huge step forward” – a view that was echoed by Shetland MSP Wishart during a debate in parliament this week.

“It is important that the services working for rural and island communities includes representation by those they serve. Without understanding the socio-economic complexities of those communities decisions will not fill local needs,” she said.

“I have long opposed HIAL centralisation. I would hope that dedicated local representation on the HIAL board would have stopped proposals reaching the stage they are at now.”

Responding to similar concerns earlier this year, transport minister Michael Matheson said it is “not appropriate to limit the candidate pool for board membership by imposing requirements for where candidates come from”.

Become a supporter of Shetland News

Shetland News is asking its many readers to consider start paying for their dose of the latest local news delivered straight to their PC, tablet or mobile phone.

Journalism comes at a price and because that price is not being paid in today’s rapidly changing media world, most publishers - national and local - struggle financially despite very healthy audience figures.

Most online publishers have started charging for access to their websites, others have chosen a different route. Shetland News currently has  over 600 supporters  who are all making small voluntary financial contributions. All funds go towards covering our cost and improving the service further.

Your contribution will ensure Shetland News can: -

  • Bring you the headlines as they happen;
  • Stay editorially independent;
  • Give a voice to the community;
  • Grow site traffic further;
  • Research and publish more in-depth news, including more Shetland Lives features.

If you appreciate what we do and feel strongly about impartial local journalism, then please become a supporter of Shetland News by either making a single payment or monthly subscription.

Support us from as little as £3 per month – it only takes a minute to sign up. Thank you.

 

Newsletters

Subscribe to a selection of different newsletters from Shetland News, varying from breaking news delivered on the minute, to a weekly round-up of the opinion posts. All delivered straight to your inbox.

Daily Briefing Newsletter Weekly Highlights Newsletter Opinion Newsletter Life in Shetland Newsletter

JavaScript Required

We're sorry, but Shetland News isn't fully functional without JavaScript enabled.
Head over to the help page for instructions on how to enable JavaScript on your browser.

Your Privacy

We use cookies on our site to improve your experience.
By using our service, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Cookie Policy.

Browser is out-of-date

Shetland News isn't fully functional with this version of .
Head over to the help page for instructions on updating your browser for more security, improved speed and the best overall experience on this site.

Interested in Notifications?

Get notifications from Shetland News for important and breaking news.
You can unsubscribe at any time.

Become a supporter of Shetland News

We're committed to ensuring everyone has equitable access to impartial, open and quality local journalism that benefits all residents.

By supporting Shetland News, you play a vital role in ensuring we remain a pivotal resource in supporting the community.

Support us from as little as £3 per month – it only takes a minute to sign up. Thank you.