There is wide agreement that HIAL must modernise its air traffic management service. ATMS is the only viable option presented that provides the necessary levels of resilience required to ensure long-term sustainable air traffic service provision for the communities we serve.
HIAL has always known there would be impacts by undertaking such a significant and complex change management programme. Having listened to concerns from our stakeholders, HIAL commissioned Reference Economic Consultants (REC) to assess the economic and community impact of ATMS and, where relevant, undertake Island Community Impact Assessments (ICIAs).
The impact assessment report explores the potential impacts on local communities, both positive and negative, resulting from ATMS.
FAQ about the Impact Assessment
Q. Why was the impact assessment undertaken?
A. The decision to proceed with the ATMS programme was taken before the Islands (Scotland) Act was granted Royal Assent in 2018. Whilst not legally required to do so, HIAL agreed to undertake a retrospective assessment to identify any potential impacts resulting from the programme on our island communities.
Having listened to local concerns, HIAL commissioned the independent report to help identify socio-economic impacts for our island and mainland communities – and to allow us to mitigate these impacts wherever possible.
Q. What does the impact assessment review?
A. HIAL has been clear from the start that it was not the role of the assessment to recommend that a specific course of action (in this case the ATMS programme) should or should not be pursued. Nor was it an options appraisal or a gateway review of the programme.
In line with the Islands (Scotland) Act 2018, the assessment undertaken was to “assess the extent to which the authority considers that the policy, strategy or service (as the case may be) can be developed or delivered in such a manner as to improve or mitigate, for island communities, the outcomes resulting from it.”
Q. Why did the assessment report compare the impact of the ATMS programme with a local surveillance alternative?
A. The report makes clear that the status-quo is not sustainable. Therefore the report compares the impact of the ATMS programme with what HIAL had considered as an alternative option – a local surveillance solution based at existing airports. The report clearly notes why a local surveillance alternative was not viable and was discounted.
Q. Why was the local surveillance option discounted by HIAL?
A. The local surveillance option was considered. However it was discounted – not just because it was the most costly option identified in the Helios report but because it did not offer the same level of staff resilience, operational flexibility or recruitment and retention benefits that the ATMS option offers.
Q. Why is HIAL continuing with ATMS?
A. While the ATMS programme has a net economic gain for the overall Highlands and Islands area, we have always known there would be specific community impacts by undertaking such a significant and complex change management programme.
HIAL must modernise its air traffic services. ATMS is the only option that provides the necessary levels of resilience required to ensure long-term sustainable air traffic service provision for the communities we serve.
To date, there have been no alternative viable proposals that provide solutions to address all of the challenges HIAL currently faces.
Q. What other mitigation measures can be implemented?
A. We will look to work with community stakeholders and partners at all of the airport locations to find additional local mitigation measures over and above those we have already implemented and are currently exploring.
HIAL will explore where its operations can create more economic activity for our island communities. We intend to commission an independent study to identify where that can be done.
We are hopeful that everyone with a vested interest in the long term future of air traffic services in the Highlands and Islands will work with us to deliver viable solutions that will maintain lifeline services and essential connectivity for generations to come.
Q. What are the next steps?
A. The HIAL Board accepts the potential impact on local employment and economies and agrees with the further recommendations to explore where HIAL’s operations can create more economic activity for island communities. HIAL intends to commission an independent study to identify where that can be done – specifically Lewis, Orkney, Shetland and Uist.
HIAL has written to local relevant authorities to request meetings and has offered to work together with stakeholders to identify where it can contribute further to local economies.