Address URGENT local issues before reinstating flights from Ashaig Airstrip
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A group has been formed to develop a plan for a twice daily Air Service linking Skye with Glasgow or Edinburgh. The group is made up of The Highland Council, HITRANS, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Highlands and Islands Airports Ltd, Transport Scotland and Loganair.
According to a recent report, the airport could cost up to £880-980k to run per year. It would require the upgrading of the current airstrip with a permanent terminal building, apron (where planes are loaded and refuelled), car park, garages and storage facilities. See below link for further information.
We believe that issues such as:
- Local infrastructure - Problems caused by tourism - The housing crisis - Environmental issues affecting Skye
should be looked at before proceeding any further. Please sign the petition if you agree.
This is currently being discussed at https://www.facebook.com/groups/573074446420800
The Highland Council needs to save £15.146 million this year and they have already increased council tax by 3%. The costs of running flights would mean that tax payers would be heavily subsidising an unnecessary service. There are many local issues requiring urgent attention and spending. We believe the group should address the following before even considering an air service:-
- Dealing with existing infrastructure problems - for example, the A82 and A87 trunk roads. Both roads urgently need improvement, particularly around Loch Lomond. Potholes are a huge problem on these roads and we know they are causing damage to vehicles. The Calmac ferry service is in crisis which is affecting locals, businesses and holiday makers alike.
- Improving and increasing the frequency of public transport to and from Skye to the Central Belt. Citylink currently charges £88.60 for a return bus journey from Glasgow to Skye. Scotrail charges around £114 for a single trip from Kyle to Glasgow during peak season. These services could be subsidised.
- It is predicted that if the UK’s aviation industry is allowed to grow unchecked it will account for 31% of all UK greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. Greener alternatives must be promoted, rather than encouraging a reliance on air travel. This includes developing nationwide cycle paths, with increasing numbers of people who choose to travel this way. The Highland Council could be investing in the Skye Cycle Way.
- Last year, the police were advising tourists not to travel to Skye unless they had accommodation booked. The roads are clogged with tourists already, which greatly increases journey time for commuters. Instead of encouraging more tourists, we need better infrastructure for current numbers and we need to make tourism sustainable here.
- Due to the Council closing public toilets throughout Skye, tourists are having to use nature as their toilet. They have not made provisions for the rising number of campervans and wild campers coming here. A recent wildfire was started near Sligachan by a campervan owner burning his toilet paper. People are also dumping chemical toilet contents in streams and ditches.
- Voluntary groups are having to clean up Skye, again due to the Council not responding adequately to the tourism upsurge.
- There is housing crisis in Skye. The average home on the Isle of Skye Property Centre website is around £185k – higher than almost everywhere else in rural Scotland. There is a disproportionately large number of second homes, and 1 in 8 households has an Airbnb listing. Nothing has been done to address this adequately, and a knock on effect is increasing homelessness and staffing shortages due to lack of long-term lets. For more information, see http://thenational.scot/news/16055921.Forget_tourism_____Skye___s_housing_crisis_is_the_real_emergency/ This project will encourage more people from Central Scotland and further afield to buy second homes, which will only add to the problem.
- Skye's small businesses are flourishing thanks to tourism and their growth should be supported. Flights would enable more efficient travel for business people, helping the local economy. However, there needs to be some protection put in place to prevent the exploitation of land, people and resources through aggressive business practices from larger companies which don't have a sense of responsibility to the area. The independent businesses shape Skye's unique appeal to visitors, and this market should not be spoiled by an influx of global chains.
- We call for the Group to consult extensively with local individuals and groups before going any further.
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