Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MP Angus MacNeil & Western Isles SNP Council Group Leader, Gordon Murray, has expressed astonishment at the fact that not all options have been considered and costed for HIAL managing air traffic control at island airports. Especially against a background where political parties have policies, schemes and ideas to maintain the population in Scotland’s vulnerable communities. HIAL seem hell bent on not just taking some jobs out of these communities, but just about the best paid jobs out of these communities.

The revelation came in a letter from Transport Scotland after Mr MacNeil had queried better value for money options that would deliver what HIAL claimed they need to deliver.  These options could prevent relocating jobs and uprooting families to Inverness but maintaining island communities in line with government policy and with better value for money for the public purse. Astonishingly HIAL did not calculate the costs for these options.

Commenting Angus MacNeil MP said:

“At a time when public budgets are pressed like never before, to get a letter from Transport Scotland reiterating that the ATMS project is not a cost saving exercise is frankly jaw-dropping. 

“The letter states “The ATMS project is not a cost saving exercise” and further states that “Costings were not calculated for all options.” This much I know to be true as there are two cheaper options than empire building in Inverness and if HIAL manage to hoodwink Scottish Government Ministers, then each and every year £2 million will be needlessly wasted from the Scottish Government’s budget and jobs will be removed from the islands, cancelling out any other government spend to further help people remain in our island communities. 

“Between the Scottish Government and Audit Scotland, somebody has to rapidly get a grip about what is going on and remove the uncertainty that is hanging over too many islanders jobs at the moment. The hoodwinking of the Government must end.” 

Commenting SNP Council Leader, Cllr Gordon Murray, said: 

“HIAL need to review their decision in terms of the huge impact this will have on the islands – the people of these islands are ambitious and are our greatest resource, it’s time public agencies such as HIAL acknowledged this. 

“By retaining these jobs on the islands, HIAL will be making an investment with far-reaching positive consequences for communities than if it were to continue its plans. HIAL need to be a part of the transformational change these islands need and this is their opportunity.”