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Highlands and Islands MSPs Emma Roddick and Donald Cameron quiz First Minister Nicola Sturgeon over Highlands and Islands Airports Ltd's plans to centralise its air traffic control operation in Inverness


By Ian Duncan

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Emma Roddick MSP.
Emma Roddick MSP.

Highlands and Islands MSPs Emma Roddick and Donald Cameron have quizzed First Minister Nicola Sturgeon over Highlands and Islands Airports Ltd (Hial) air traffic control plans.

Ms Roddick made a call in the Scottish Parliament for Hial to reconsider its air traffic management scheme.

The project is in the late planning stages and will see air traffic controllers at Hial’s island airports replaced with a remote tower based in Inverness.

She asked the First Minister for assurances regarding job losses at Hial owned airports if their proposals to centralise air traffic control go ahead.

“I am concerned by Hial’s plans. By their own estimates, the project will see the loss of 48 highly skilled jobs in rural areas," she said.

“This move will force people to move away from the islands in search of employment, taking their families with them. We already have a depopulation problem – we need to be creating new job opportunities, not removing them.

“I have met with Hial regarding the plans previously, and I have joined fellow MSPs in writing to the First Minister.

“I urge Hial to reconsider their position. I agree that our airports need to be modernised, but that should not be at the expense of the people who work in them.”

Mr Cameron, who questioned Ms Sturgeon over the issue at First Minister’s Questions earlier today, said: “There is great concern across our island communities at these proposals which could lead to the loss of skilled jobs in the islands.

“While I welcome the commitment from the First Minister to try and accelerate a planned meeting between the Transport Minister and local stakeholders, it is paramount that local concerns are listened to and properly acted upon.

“Not often do we see such unity across all political parties and none on such an issue, and I hope that the Scottish Government and HIAL think again, and abandon these ill thought out proposals.”


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