Councillors have united in strong condemnation of plans under consideration by the operators of Sumburgh Airport to impose car parking charges.
In a strongly-worded motion on the agenda for next week’s Full Council meeting, signed by 21 of the isles’ 22 councillors, they say they deplore the proposal by Highlands and Islands Airports Ltd (HIAL) to introduce what they describe as a “parking tax”.
This, they allege, will “dramatically increase the burden to the travelling public who are already currently experiencing elevated costs of travel to and from Shetland”.
Councillors will work together with other organisations and agencies to ask HIAL to “reconsider and cancel this damaging proposal”.
The news follows Tuesday’s revelation that HIAL will meet local folk and hear the views of the council, NHS Shetland and other agencies before deciding whether to impose the charges.
Isles MSP Tavish Scott sought and received an assurance from HIAL chairman Grenville Johnston that representatives of the company would travel to Shetland for discussions.
Mr Scott said: “I want HIAL to listen to Shetlanders before they make any final decision. I am pleased that the chairman accepted that that should happen. I look forward to a meeting in the islands where we can all make the case that Sumburgh airport’s car parks should be free for all who need and use them.
“Local people already pay high air fares to travel, particularly when they have to book at short notice. For HIAL to propose to add more costs to our lifeline services is quite wrong. I am pleased to have the support of our local council, our local health board, Loganair and many other organisations, businesses and individuals. They all want to make the case for Sumburgh’s car park to remain free for all who have to use the airport.
“The sooner we can remove the threat of these extra costs to local people the better.”