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Shetland islanders opposed to centralising air traffic control

Sumburgh Airport.
Sumburgh Airport.

The centralisation of air traffic control in the north of Scotland must be stopped, an MSP has said as it emerged 92% of Shetland islanders oppose the move.

Controversial plans by Highlands and Islands Airports Limited to move all operations to Inverness have been met by strong opposition ever since they were announced.

HIAL chief executive Inglis Lyon addressed MSPs at the Scottish Parliament yesterday on the project.

He told them walking away from the project was “not on our agenda” though he stressed the complexity of what is planned.

But figures from a recent survey have now indicated 92% of respondents on Shetland oppose plans to move control away from Sumburgh Airport.

Shetland MSP Beatrice Wishart said the figures outline island-wide opposition to HIAL’s project.

The findings comes just one day after officials confirmed £6 million had been spent on the project.

Mrs Wishart said: “A clear issue that has been communicated to me is the strong local opposition to what is happening with HIAL centralising its air traffic control in Inverness.

“£6 million has already been spent on a project which HIAL’s own consultants said was risky and costly, while a report last year from the Prospect Union estimated £18 million will be taken away from island communities.

“That is not good for Shetland and should be stopped.

“Serious and legitimate concerns, including the potential loss of highly skilled jobs from Shetland, have been raised repeatedly but HIAL is intent on pressing ahead.

“We need to see the SNP Government listen to what island communities are saying and re-assess this project to find a better solution to modernising the Highlands and Islands air traffic network.”

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