McArthur urges reconsideration of air traffic centralisation plans

Orkney’s MSP, Liam McArthur, has today (Wednesday) again urged HIAL to reconsider their plans to centralise air traffic control services in Inverness amidst concerns around rising costs and an absence of prior ‘island proofing’ of the proposals.

Mr McArthur’s demand came following a meeting of the Scottish Parliament’s Public Petitions Committee where HIAL’s Chief Executive, Inglis Lyon, Chief Operating officer Gary Cobb and ATM professional advisor Pat Nolan were giving evidence on the plans.

During the meeting, Orkney’s MSP repeated warnings from HIAL’s own advisers that centralising air traffic control services was the ‘riskiest and costliest option’ in response to recent findings that over £6million has been spent on the project so far.

Mr McArthur also warned that HIAL’s intention to press ahead with the project regardless of the findings of an island impact assessment, agreed to only after the project got underway, risked undermining the credibility of the government’s commitment to ‘island proofing’.

Afterwards, Mr McArthur commented:

“Despite assurances from HIAL that the plans are ‘on schedule and on budget’, it is already clear that costs have increased significantly and risk spiralling further.

“Mr Lyon again dismissed the need to review HIAL’s centralisation plans in light of the impact the pandemic has had on the aviation sector. Given that HIAL’s own consultants confirmed centralisation was the ‘costliest and riskiest’ option, such a review would seem to be prudent.

“Even the much delayed island impact assessment, due to be published finally later this month, lacks credibility. The decisions have already been taken and millions in public money already spent.

“Mr Lyon has made no secret of the fact that the islands assessment will have no bearing on HIAL’s plans to centralise services in Inverness. So much for the Scottish Government’s commitment to ‘island proofing’.

“No-one disputes the need to modernise air traffic services, which are essential for supporting operations on our lifeline air routes. However, with costs rising, risks unaddressed and staff threatening to leave, it is time for HIAL to call a halt to this ill-conceived venture.” 

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