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Highland MSP Questions Cabinet Secretary on HIAL Air Traffic Control Centralisation Programme

7th December 2018

At General Questions yesterday (6/12/18) in the Scottish Parliament, Highlands & Islands Regional MSP Rhoda Grant questioned the Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Michael Matheson, in relation to the centralisation programme being proposed for Air Traffic Control.

Rhoda Said " I asked the Cabinet Secretary if the proposal to centralise Air Traffic Control was island proofed, if an impact assessment had been carried out and if he would reverse this decision, which was to base the HIAL Central Air Traffic Control System in Inverness. I advised that if the Inverness Air Traffic Control system could service Benbecula for example, then surely if the system was place in Benbecula it could quite easily service Inverness.

" I advised the Cabinet Secretary that centralising the Air Traffic Control system in Inverness would not only be bad for the economy of other parts of the Highlands & islands, but it would be bad also for staff and workers. I suggested the funding being set aside for the centralisation of Air Traffic Control could be better spent on the resilience of HIAL airports.

Rhoda Grant concluded “The Cabinet Secretary advised that HIAL have to meet stringent Air Traffic Control regulations and in doing so would have to invest in the right technology and make sure their system was safe above all. However, he seems to have missed my point which was if they decide that having the one central Air Traffic Control base within the HIAL network, then why does it have to be based in Inverness. If this is going to be a state of the art system with the latest technology utilised, then this centralised system could be based in Benbecula or Stornoway or any of the island communities which are in greater need of jobs and the retention of skills. Even better still that all airports in the network retain their own staff but use the remote access to provide cover when necessary.

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