Scatsta Airport control tower not fit for purpose

Shetland Charitable Trust has admitted to problems with the control tower on the new airport terminal it is having built for the oil industry at Scatsta. However the delay and extra cost will not hit trust finances as it will be absorbed through the lease with the oil consortium.

Rumours that the top section of the five-storey tower was too small have circulated for several weeks and the trust has now acknowledged the error. Trust financial controller Jeff Goddard declined to go into detail this week but said there would be no financial consequences for its subsidiary property company Slap, which owns the building.

He did not wish to speculate as to where the blame might lie and he believed the structure could be altered successfully. “There is room up there for a bigger top floor,” he said.

The Shetland Times understands the problem may have arisen because the tower had to be designed by international architects and consultants Atkins some time before it was known the amount of equipment and number of people it would have to house. One source said when the steel arrived and was being erected it was realised something was not right.

But another source involved in the project said yesterday it was “not a huge issue” and the kind of problem that came up in almost any major building scheme.

The tower, which is nearly 80 feet tall, is being built by local contractors DITT which is not at fault. A number of oil companies, Bristow Helicopters, airport operators Serco and others are involved in the project.

As well as air traffic control consoles the tower will house a spiral staircase, offices, a quiet room and a radar room. It and the terminal building are to have a contrasting external colour scheme of “Goosewing grey” and “Denim”. The old terminal building is to be completely refurbished after operations move into the new one.

The terminal improvements are the second phase of an £8 million redevelopment of the airport to improve the handling of oil flights and their passengers, which is the only business at the North Mainland airport. A new £1.5 million hangar was completed by Garriock Brothers in 2009 to house the six Bristow helicopters which shifted from the company’s old main base at Sumburgh.

Scatsta is operated by Serco on behalf of the oil companies’ Integrated Aviation Consortium. Slap lent the IAC the money to pay back – at a profit – over the five years that it committed itself to keeping its flight operations at Scatsta.

The rent paid for the buildings is proportionate to how much Slap ultimately spends on them. It is already being paid even though the new building is not ready.

The deal was done with the SIC councillors on Slap in 2007 when the industry was threatening to desert Scatsta with the loss of over 80 jobs and base itself at Sumburgh or perhaps Aberdeen.


Add Your Comment
  • Ian Florens

    • August 5th, 2011 6:28

    I travel through Scatsta every month and every time I do I see no real progress in the construction of the new tower. This story explains why!
    We offshore workers who use the terminal are keen to see it up and running as the facilities at present are very poor.
    Although, having said that, the staff are professional and competent.


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