Responding to HIAL’s Impact Assessment Report into Air Traffic Management, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar’s Chair of Transportation, Cllr Uisdean Robertson said:
“It is time for the Scottish Government to show that they truly believe in and respect the requirements of the Islands Act. Impact assessments are not carried out simply for the sake of doing so. They have implications for public bodies, in this case the Government owned HIAL and they must now demonstrate by their actions that they are listening to the islands.”
Cllr Robertson continued: “Now that staff members have had time to digest the findings of the impact assessment it's fair to say that the general atmosphere amongst them is one of despondency. The report shows in black and white that this project will not only rob us of jobs but will cause damage to our Island economies to an extent that is unthinkable from a company owned by Scottish Government ministers.
HIAL's own spin is almost as bad as the contents of the document itself. I reiterate the union's quote from their earlier press release:
‘HIAL’s claim that local implementation is not viable or that this report endorses their position is simply not true. This report states HIAL’s position, it very clearly does not endorse it. Any attempt to claim the contrary is just more desperate spin.
For HIAL to now come out and say that they knew all along that the project will have severe negative consequences on the Island communities it is supposed to serve is just plainly incredulous. Not content with this, they are now asking that staff members and local authorities work with them to sort out the mess which they have created. Staff's scepticism and unwillingness to get around the table should be seen in the context of HIAL's behaviour and general air of contempt for the Community which they have displayed up until now. It seems that no matter how many times HIAL's short-sightedness is pointed out to them they are determined to push ahead with this unnecessary project and are more than happy to leave a trail of destruction in their path.
HIAL's current air traffic control model has faced its biggest stress test thus far over the course of the past year. Despite this ATC in the Western Isles has continued to operate without a single hitch and lifeline flights have been operating throughout the pandemic. Staff have reacted quickly throughout to ever-changing circumstances and have continued to operate a professional service at all times. HIAL already have the foundation on which to build and future proof resilient air traffic services right here in the Western Isles. However, rather than take the much simpler and less costly option of investing in the Western Isles, and living up to their own mission statement, HIAL has instead now shown that there is nothing that will stop them from squandering tax payers' money as they needlessly pursue a flawed strategy.”