Council signals concern over air traffic management change

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Comhairle nan Eilean Siar is to continue making representations to the UK and Scottish Governments regarding concerns over the arrangements and preferred option proposed by Highlands and Islands Airports Ltd regarding their future air traffic management arrangements.

The Comhairle is concerned about HIAL’s proposals for remote tower and centralised approach surveillance technology as part of the company’s 2030 strategy.

Councillor Uisdean Robertson, Chairman of the Comhairle’s Transportation and Infrastructure Committee said: “The Comhairle is concerned at the potential loss of a significant number of high quality well paid jobs in the Islands.

“Our understanding is that a total of 17 posts could be lost directly from our communities which, in as fragile an economy as the Outer Hebrides, would be a substantial impact.

“A further four posts could be lost through indirect and induced impacts.

“We also have concerns about a centralised monitoring system given the shortcomings in the reliability, resilience and security of existing communications infrastructure.

“There may also be implications for QinetiQ’s operations at the MOD Hebrides range and this has not been explored in HIAL’s Scoping Study.

“The only response we have so far received is from the Scottish Government and I find it disappointing that they have not responded more positively to our concerns in light of the fact that once again, jobs are in danger of being lost to the Islands and transferred to the mainland.

“As we recently highlighted to Cal-Mac, the Islands desperately need work opportunities, particularly high skilled, high quality jobs which could go a long way to sustaining the fragile economy of the Islands.”

Yesterday’s (Wednesday) Transportation and Infrastructure Committee agreed to continue to make representations to the UK and Scottish Governments regarding the Comhairle’s concerns associated with the arrangements and preferred option proposed by HIAL.