During a members debate in the Scottish Parliament today (10th May), Orkney’s MSP Liam McArthur has again criticised the decision by Highlands and Islands Airports Ltd (HIAL) to introduce airport parking charges at Kirkwall, Sumburgh and Stornoway airports
This decision was taken without any prior consultation with airport users, the local authorities or the airport consultative committees, despite HIAL’s Strategic Plan promising “effective collaboration with airport users and stakeholders”.
Following the debate, Liam commented:
“By failing to undertake any consultation prior to announcing their plans for car parking charges, HIAL’s Board has shown contempt for our island communities. Having had to abandon plans for charges back in 2008, it is both disappointing and surprising to see that few lessons have been learned.
“While any moves to invest in an improved airport bus service are ones I would welcome, for many people in Orkney using this service will not be a practical option, particularly when it comes to catching early morning flights. So these charges will just add to the already high cost of accessing our lifeline air services with every likelihood that the charges will be increased in future as and when it suits HIAL.
“It is also clear that little consideration has been given to the needs of those in some of our smaller islands. The Community Councils in Papay and North Ronaldsay have made clear their view that the charges will have a disproportionate impact on residents in both these islands. HIAL has agreed to look at these concerns, which is welcome. It does, though, reinforce the benefit of consulting before rather than after taking a decision.
“The HIAL Board’s handling of this process has done nothing to inspire confidence locally about its commitment to engage proactively and openly with the communities it serves. Even at this late stage, I would urge HIAL to withdraw its proposals and embark on meaningful consultation to address capacity issues at Kirkwall airport and deliver the improvements we all wish to see”.