Call for delay on air traffic control centralisation

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Scotland’s three islands councolis have called for a moratorium on HIAL’s plans to centralise air traffic control services pending an Islands Communities Impact Assessment as legislated for under the Islands Act.

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar has joined Shetland and Orkney Islands Councils to ask for the delay following HIAL’s decision to move forward with the centralisation of ATC to Inverness.

The controversial move was debated in the Scottish Parliament last week when it was condemned by many Highland and Island MSPs.

Airports affected by the centralisation proposals include Stornoway and Benbecula.

HIAL is a public company wholly owned by Scottish ministers who have been asked to intervene in the proposals that would see jobs being lost in the islands.

A spokesperson for the islands councils said: ‘All three islands councils are of the view that, in line with legislation under the Islands Act, a full Islands Communities Impact Assessment should be carried out before any more work is carried out on the centralisation of ATC services.

‘Not only would the centralisation of these services lose skilled island jobs, they could also curtail the future development of the island airports.

‘Centralisation of services and jobs is entirely contrary to what islands authorities have been working towards over the past few years in terms of growing island economies.

‘We believe there are other options which should be more fully explored, such as those that HIAL’s own consultants previously highlighted. In the meantime, it is imperative that the centralisation process is halted to assess the true impact this will have on our island communities.’