McArthur welcomes confirmation HIAL’s ‘remote tower’ procurement is cancelled


Orkney's MSP, Liam McArthur, has welcomed confirmation that procurement of Highland and Islands Airports Ltd (HIAL) Remote Tower project has been cancelled.

In response to parliamentary questions lodged by Mr McArthur, the Transport Minister, Graeme Dey has confirmed that HIAL has contacted companies involved in the "Remote Tower procurement to confirm that the tender exercise had been cancelled." It follows an announcement last October that the tender exercise had been halted following progress in talks between HIAL and Prospect.

The Minister also admitted that millions have been spent on HIAL's Air Traffic Management Strategy (ATMS), since it was launched in January 2018. ATMS included plans which would have seen air traffic controllers removed from airports across the region and replaced with a single, ‘remote’ tower based in Inverness.

Mr McArthur has led opposition to the proposals which HIAL’s own assessment identified would have a series of "negative" and "significantly negative" impacts on island communities, notably the loss of "high quality employment" and salaries from the local economy. A Digital Scotland report also rated the plans as "amber-red" due to concerns over the deliverability of necessary infrastructure.

Responding to the latest ministerial responses, Mr McArthur said:

"For years, HIAL and SNP Ministers insisted that centralisation was the only option for modernising air traffic services across the Highlands and Islands. That was never the case and finally the government and HIAL have been forced to come clean.

"Confirmation by the Minister that the ‘remote tower’ procurement has been cancelled is welcome. It comes, however, only after millions in public funds have been spent on an ill-conceived vanity project opposed across parties and the communities most directly affected.

"No-one disputes the need to modernise air traffic services, which support operations on our lifeline air routes. Sadly, months and millions have been wasted by SNP Ministers and HIAL on a centralisation that was never going to get off the ground."


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