Comhairle Meets With UK Transport Minister

The Comhairle has welcomed the opportunity to meet with Baroness Sugg, UK Government Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Transport, when she visited the Western Isles this afternoon.

Cllr Uisdean Robertson, Chairman of the Comhairle’s Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, said after the meeting, “We were pleased to be able to meet with Baroness Sugg as we were able to raise our concerns regarding Highlands and Islands Airports Ltd’s proposals for air traffic management arrangements for the region”.

“We have ongoing concerns regarding the impact that their centralisation strategy will have on the local economy of the Western Isles – with a total of 17 highly paid jobs being lost from Stornoway and Benbecula airports, this will undoubtedly have a disproportionate impact for our community compared to mainland airports.  We have raising this as a major concern with the Scottish Government and HIAL since June 2017 and it appears that insufficient cognisance is being taken of the negative impact”.

“Also, whilst we recognise the need for HIAL to invest in the necessary assets and infrastructure to ensure compliance with current and foreseeable future legislative demands, we remain unconvinced that such a centralised monitoring system can be safely delivered given the significant shortcomings in the reliability, resilience and security of existing communications infrastructure to the islands.  This should be a material consideration in the development of the preferred option and we look to the UK Government and the Civil Aviation Authority to be completely satisfied that passenger safety and that the resilience of these lifeline services are not at any level of risk”.

“We look forward to further engagement by the UK and Scottish Governments and HIAL in this matter, particularly in the context of the principle of “islands proofing” which has been incorporated in the recently enacted Islands (Scotland) Act 2018”.