Group letter calls on government to address HIAL remote tower plans

A large cohort of MPs and members of the community have expressed their concerns to Scottish ministers 

A cross party conglomerate consisting of MSPs, MPs, council leaders, members of the community and trade unionists have written a letter to the Scottish Government regarding Highlands and Islands Airports’ (HIAL) plan to introduce remote air traffic control towers in Inverness.  

This has been deemed as a major issue within the region as it would potentially remove high value jobs from the surrounding areas.  

Wiki Commons/Stephen Branley
Photo Wiki Commons/Stephen Branley

The letter collated by the members reads: “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 – the trade union that represents air traffic control staff at HIAL – is currently disputing the proposals with the company.  

So far, the union has reported that the Scottish Government has not been willing to meet the communities affected by the new plans. After putting them under pressure, one minister has agreed a meet in more than two months’ time.  

David Avery, a Prospect negotiator, has stated that government’s refusal to meet has “left [communities] questioning whether ministers care about the impact of their policies”.  

He continued: “The Scottish Government has a duty to listen to the communities affected by this change. Ministers must meet with us as soon as possible so that they we can get on with finding the best way to reform air traffic controls in the Highlands and Islands without causing economic damage.”