Investment in Scottish islands such as Shetland is “pointless” if governments turn their backs on high-valued jobs in the isles.
That is the view of one trade union negotiator who has responded to the announcement of funding for the Scottish islands.
David Avery of Prospect has highlighted plans by Highlands and Islands Airports Limited (Hial) to move air traffic control from Sumburgh to Inverness – a move heavily criticised as failing to abide by the spirit of the islands plan.
It comes on the day when £100 million funding was announced as part of the Islands Deal – a share of which is poised to benefit Shetland.
Hial has insisted the move is necessary to secure the future of the industry. It says digital tower technology is proven and currently operating all over the world, including Sweden, Norway and London City Airport in the UK.
The airport authority has also insisted staff, unions, airport managers and senior personnel have been involved throughout the process. The Scottish government, it says, has also been kept informed.
Mr Avery said: “Investment in the islands is vital to maintain those thriving communities but if the government turns its back on high value jobs in those areas then what is the point?
“Hial, with the full approval of the Scottish government, is currently pressing on with its plans to move air traffic control operations from the communities they serve to a central hub.
“This will remove £15 million of direct employment from the islands which goes against the Islands plan and suggest that despite this investment today, the government is not serious about doing what is required.
“It’s time Hial dropped these damaging and unnecessary plans to centralise air traffic in Inverness, and worked with their staff to deploy a world class service in each of the islands.”