Air Traffic Control options non-starter says MacNeil

Isles MP Angus MacNeil is again expressing concerns about proposed changes to air traffic control (ATC) in the Islands.

Highlands and Islands Airport Ltd propose to centralise air traffic control services in Inverness by using ‘remote towers’.

Commenting Angus MacNeil MP said:

“HIAL have named this high risk and costly option as ‘remote towers’ when in actual fact it is the centralisation of air traffic control meaning high-value island jobs going to Inverness.

“The Scottish Government and the Scottish Parliament committees, particularly the Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee should be scrutinising this proposal line-by-line because it has huge implications not only for transport but for the community in the Western Isles. 

“We know that air traffic control has a difficulty with recruitment and retention, but this is not the case in the island areas – when they recruit locally, they do retain locally. 

“There is a huge risk that if air traffic control is centralised in Inverness that all air traffic controllers could be lost from Inverness as they are in demand globally and we would find ourselves without air traffic control anywhere in the HIAL network.

“This is an ill-conceived proposal which HIAL has somehow taken regardless of the warning voices from everyone else.”


New Pilot Scheme to ease Crew Shortages in West Coast Waters

Angus MacNeil MP looks for more information on proposed pilot scheme.

Following the first Scottish Questions of the new year Angus MacNeil MP has called on Douglas Ross MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Scottish Office to bring forward details of a pilot scheme to allow non-EEA fisherman to crew boats in West of Scotland waters and ease crew shortages.

Mr MacNeil  believes that the Outer Hebrides would be the ideal place for the pilot and after speaking with Mr Ross commented

‘I can assure Mr Ross a pilot scheme allowing non-EEA fishermen into waters West of Scotland would be most welcome. Indeed, fishing interests in the Outer Hebrides, the West Coast and probably Northern Ireland would all welcome such a scheme. I am confident that any such trial would be a great success.

‘I have written to Mr Ross and look forward to getting more information from Mr Ross and hope he will consider using the Outer Hebrides for this trial. ‘

Castlebay 2G outage

4 Months without a 2G phone signal is 4 months too long says Isles MP

Angus MacNeil MP has written to EE to see if he can help resolve a dispute which has left Castlebay residents without 2g on their mobile phones for more than 4 months.

Commenting Mr MacNeil said

” It was brought to my attention that the Castlebay mast in Barra has been without a 2g phone signal for more than 4 months. It seems that there is some dispute between the Operator, the owner of the mast and the landowner which is preventing access to enable restoration of the signal.

“I have today written to EE to ask if there is anything that I can do to resolve this dispute and bring about a restoration of the signal. If there is a problem between the land owner and the owner of the mast then this must be sorted out in order to reassure Castlebay customers that this is not just an excuse for the operators to do nothing.

” Four months is too long to leave customers without 2G and something must be done to ensure operators have access to masts as soon as something goes wrong”

Be prepared for polling day says Angus MacNeil SNP Na h-Eileanan an Iar

 Angus MacNeil SNP  Na h-Eileanan an Iar has urged everyone to prepare for polling day Thursday 12th December.

With forecasts predicting colder weather and the shorter days at this time of year this polling day will be very different from the normal early summer elections.

Mr MacNeil said

“With only about 6.5 hours of daylight and the risk of inclement weather it is important to plan how and when you will get out to vote.

“Polling stations are open from 7am – 10pm and I would urge people to vote as early as possible and not wait until later when darkness and falling temperatures could cause problems. For those with transport please consider whether neighbours may need lifts to the polls.

“Finally if you are a football fan and are planning a night watching Scottish teams in Europe on the TV remember to vote early and good luck to both Scottish Teams!”


MacNeil highlights SNP support for Island Communities

Campaigning in Uist yesterday the SNP candidate for Na h-Eileanan an Iar, Angus MacNeil, pointed out the very real support the SNP has given the island communities over the last ten years.

“While other parties make promises, the SNP delivers, namely the investment the Scottish Government has made in transport, housing and key industries over their years in office.

“A record £1 billion has been invested in vessels, ports and ferry services since 2007, while RET has been rolled out to all ferry routes in the Hebrides network.

“£5 million is being invested in an islands housing fund to support the building of new affordable housing in island communities. 

“The recent substantial investments in a Rural Tourism Infrastructure fund, and in the food and drink industry are further evidence of the huge benefits the SNP Scottish Government brings. 

“On Thursday December 12th a vote for the SNP will strengthen the voice of Scotland’s island communities.”


Improved mobile connectivity remains a priority says MacNeil

Improved mobile connectivity in Na h-Eileanan an Iar will remain a priority. Mr MacNeil has been persistently lobbying the UK Government and mobile operators to ensure that improvements are made to mobile connectivity in the Hebrides. 

Angus MacNeil recently met with representatives from EE and BT at Westminster and was pleased to hear about improvements being made to the network across the islands. 

Commenting Mr MacNeil said:

“Whilst there is still much work to be done, I hope that many people are finding the improvements to the 4G service to be useful in their daily lives, it has certainly been quite a struggle to get to this point but following my meeting with EE and BT, I am optimistic that progress is being made to enhance the 4G service.

“There are now 44 operational 4G masts across the Hebrides and another 8 new masts in the pipeline. This is an issue I will continue to pursue with mobile operators.” 


One week until Polling Day

“It has been enjoyable going through the Islands and hearing the views of voters from Barra to the Butt of Lewis. On the doorsteps people understand that the choice in this election is between choosing for ourselves what kind of country we want to live in or allowing others to make that choice for us.

“ The recent Ipsos MORI poll for STV shows support for the SNP at 44%  with the Tories in second place 18% behind. Only by voting for the SNP can Scotland help deprive the Tories and Boris Johnson of the victory they so badly want.

“In Scotland the Scottish Government has spent billions mitigating the worst of the austerity imposed by the Tories and unchecked by a weakened Labour Party fighting among themselves rather than for the people they are supposed to represent.

 “In Westminster, the SNP will continue to make the case for free TV Licenses for the over 75’s and to prevent a future Tory Government from further increasing the pension age. We will also argue for the UK Government to match the ambitious climate targets set by the Scottish Government and against any renewal of Trident.“I would encourage everyone to vote on December 12th  and only a vote for the SNP will ensure we get the fairer, more equal Scotland we want.”

Angus MacNeil SNP Na h-Eileanan an Iar speaking just a week before the election said

WASPI Women must be treated fairly says Angus MacNeil SNP

WASPI Women must be treated fairly says Angus MacNeil SNP

Angus MacNeil SNP Na h-Eileanan an Iar fully supports the Women Against State Pension Inequality (WASPI) campaign in their efforts to secure fairness for women affected by the acceleration in the retirement age – up to 1900 women in Na h-Eileanan an Iar alone.

SNP-commissioned research found that it would cost £8 billion to reverse the 2011 changes and give WASPI women more time to prepare – significantly less than the £30 billion suggested by the UK Government.

Commenting Angus MacNeil said:

“Due to the UK Government’s shambolic handling of the process these women have not been given reasonable time to prepare for retirement. This is a gross injustice.  Pensions are not a privilege, they are a contract and the UK Government has broken that contract.

“Sadly this is one area that the Scottish Government cannot do anything about – pensions are fully reserved to Westminster and the Scotland Act 2016 explicitly prevents the Scottish Parliament from creating new pension benefits. Neither can the power to top-up benefits be used because WASPI women are not yet in receipt of a pension.

 “It is right that in their Manifesto the SNP pledges support for the WASPI campaign and that SNP MPs will continue to call on the UK Government to take responsibility, deliver the pension that women born in the 1950s deserve and end this inequality.”


MacNeil warns secret US-UK trade deal would undermine Scottish produce

Following President Trump’s arrival in the UK yesterday and the recent leak of internal memos from the Department for International Trade’s US-UK trade and investment working group, the SNP have warned that Scottish produce could be undermined and food standards threatened by a secretive Trump-Johnson trade deal.  

The memos reveal that Geographical Indications (GIs) – a mark of quality that protects produce from imitation and to promote regional products – have also been put on the table as part of potential trade negotiations.

The US and EU have long disagreed over GIs, however with the UK Governments extreme Brexit plans the US have presented their “potential objectives” on loosening and changing standards for GIs. If this was to take place it would be a disaster for Scottish produce including Stornoway Black Pudding, Scottish farmed salmon, Scotch lamb and Scotch whisky. 

The US have also been encouraging the UK, in the event of Brexit, to assert “regulatory autonomy” and not be bound by the EU’s high standards on produce. 

Commenting, Angus MacNeil SNP, Na h-Eileanan an Iar, said:

“A secretive trade deal which destroys food standards and Scotland’s world class produce, particularly Stornoway black pudding, Scottish farmed salmon and whisky, would be highly detrimental in Na h-Eileanan an Iar. It shows that the Tories are willing to sell-out Scottish produce to please Donald Trump. 

“The Local Level Brexit Vulnerabilities report released in October showed that Na h-Eileanan an Iar would be the most vulnerable and hardest hit area in Scotland to the damage of Brexit. It reiterates the fact that there is no good Brexit.

“There has been tremendous fuss about a US-UK trade deal when the reality is that such a deal would add only 0.2% to UK GDP, with a lot less to US GDP, while Brexit will cost UK 6-8% of GDP.”


We all should play our part in reducing marine pollution, says MacNeil

SNP’s Angus MacNeil, along with many islanders is saddened at the discovery of a sperm whale  which died after it was stranded on Seilebost Beach on the Isle of Harris. 

Inside the whale a 100kg litter ball was found in the stomach containing fishing nets, rope, plastic cups and plastic bags. 

Commenting Angus MacNeil, Na h-Eileanan an Iar said:

“The image of the whale on Seilebost Beach has shocked many people and further highlights the problem we have with marine pollution.

“Marine pollution is a problem world-wide which affects the Western Isles as everywhere else. If not controlled marine pollution could adversely affect the fishing industry and tourism which rely on our reputation for a clean environment and increasingly the wild life around our coasts.

“There are a number of different strands to marine pollution – locally we need to ensure that waste – household, agricultural and from those that use the sea is properly disposed of and not just dumped. Individually we need to reduce our use of plastic and single use items, ensure that we do not litter beaches and public places and sort our household waste correctly. 

“Personally I often pickup rubbish as I walk the beach at Tangasdale and I know many others do this too. I commend all those who tidy our beaches regularly and for campaign groups such as ‘Clean Coast Outer Hebrides’ for raising awareness of the importance of our coastal environment.

“We must all play our part to preserve our coasts for use by future generations.”