ISLAND councils are banding together in their bid to have the Air Discount Scheme (ADS) re-instated for islands businesses and voluntary organisations.
Highlands and Islands Labour MSP David Stewart is supporting Shetlands Islands Council, Orkney Islands Council and Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, as they fight the Scottish Government’s restriction of the ADS to private travel only – a move which the councils believe could be ‘potentially ruinous’.
Mr Stewart said: “It is most disappointing that this decision has been taken particularly as the Scottish Government acknowledged the popularity of the scheme in September last year.
“I understand the withdrawal of this benefit to our islands communities is estimated to save the Scottish Government £2.7m per year. These savings however are meagre in comparison to the social and economic benefits our islands communities gain from the scheme.”
Mr Stewart continued: “The inadequacies of present broadband facilities on the islands makes it impossible for many island businesses and voluntary organisations to access video conferencing facilities to communicate with colleagues on the mainland.
“It is essential therefore that these organisations are given as much help as possible in this current financial climate to keep abreast of developments in their chosen fields.”