Campaigners have renewed calls for air traffic control jobs to be retained in the islands – claiming centralisation to Inverness will remove £1.5million a year in jobs from remote communities.
Western Isles SNP MP Angus MacNeil is supporting the Prospect Union against centralisation, claiming Highlands and Islands Airports Ltd (HIAL) would in reality become ‘Inverness Airport groups’.
HIAL seeks to use a video feed and computer technology at Inverness to replace air traffic control across the Highlands and Islands.
Mr MacNeil claims no other autonomous island groups in the world would consider this option and suggests the possibility of centralising in the islands should be considered.
He said: “I back Prospect on this, these jobs are very important to the islands. As a thought experiment, imagine that a situation was going to come about where all the air traffic control jobs were to be moved out of Scotland to be put in some other country? We’d soon see the folly of such action.”
Prospect spokesman David Avery said: “HIAL is currently pressing on with its plans to move air traffic control operations from the communities they serve to a central hub.
“This will remove £1.5m a year of direct employment from the islands.”
A HIAL spokesman said: “We have commissioned an independent island and community impact assessment which will highlight where mitigating actions are required to address any significant impact the programme may have on a particular community. This assessment is well underway.
“We have taken the views of our colleagues into account. Inverness was their preferred option should relocation be required.”