Shetland MSP Tavish Scott has today used his member’s debate to call on Highlands and Islands Airports Limited (HIAL) to reverse the decision to impose a £3 per-day parking charge at Sumburgh, Stornoway and Kirkwall airports and warned that if the board of HIAL fail to do so they ought to be dismissed.
The controversial charges were implemented without any consultation with locals, politicians, councillors or airport consultative committees. This was in contravention of HIAL’s Strategic Plan which states that the Scottish Government owned body must carry out its operations “through robust strategic planning and effective collaboration with airport users & stakeholders”.
Speaking after the debate, Mr Scott said:
“Quite simply this is a tax on island life. No islander believes that if the £3 a day charge is introduced it will stay at £3. Charges are being used to balance the HIAL budget. So if the government cut the HIAL grant, or the management make a complete mess of centralising air traffic control in Inverness, which many believe will happen, them what will they do? Increase the car park charges.
“Ministers should instruct HIAL to conduct a proper consultation on these proposals and a thorough assessment of their operations. And if HIAL won’t do that they should get rid of the Board – a board with no island knowledge.
“It is ironic that in the month that the Scottish Government want Parliament to vote for an Islands bill and island proofing, a tax is being imposed which will hit the economic and social vitality of the islands. It will take some selling by ministers to convince islanders that island proofing is any more than spin and window dressing.”