HIAL demonstrating contempt for Islands legislation

21 August 2020

The approach HIAL are taking to their controversial Remote Towers project demonstrate ‘contempt’ for the Islands Act and renders the legislation ‘essentially worthless’ for workers Prospect union has warned.

The union represents air traffic controllers working for HIAL and has been campaigning against the plan to move all air traffic control facilities to a central hub in Inverness, leaving only cameras at other Highland and Island airports.

The union argues that this move would not only remove vital employment from the Highland and Island economies but would reduce safety and connectivity by leaving air traffic control facilities at the mercy of unreliable connectivity.

Staff, local councils and MSPs have been arguing that the Islands Act, which requires an Islands Impact Assessment (IIA) to be completed setting out the impact of changes on Island economies, should be used to force a rethink in these plans.

However HIAL have made it clear prior to commencing the consultation that they will not change their plans, regardless of the result of the IIA, rendering the whole process a sham.

Prospect negotiations officer David Avery said:

“The Islands Act was supposed to protect Island economies from exactly these kind of misguided changes, but on its first real test it is being shown up as essentially worthless.

“The contempt HIAL are showing for the spirit and intent of the legislation must surely force the Scottish Parliament to demand that the law is strengthened so that truly independent assessments can be mandated and their results respected.

“If HIAL allowed to force through this change in the teeth of opposition from local communities, local politicians, and their own staff, then the credibility of the Islands Act and of the Scottish Government’s stated policy to protect Island economies will be in tatters.

“It is perfectly feasible to deliver the improvements the projects is attempting to deliver while maintaining employment and services in Island communities however HIAL refuse to consider this, despite it being cheaper and easier to deliver.”