Green MSP hits out at rise in flights from In­ver­ness Air­port

The Press and Journal (Inverness, Highlands, and Islands) - - NEWS - BY ALIS­TAIR MUNRO

An ex­pan­sion of flights be­tween In­ver­ness and Heathrow ex­poses a “fail­ure” by the Scot­tish Govern­ment to up­grade rail in­fra­struc­ture, a north MSP has claimed.

Scot­tish Greens trans­port spokesman John Fin­nie re­acted an­grily to an in­crease in air ser­vices be­tween the High­land cap­i­tal and Lon­don, an­nounced this week by Bri­tish Air­ways.

The air­line will in­crease peak sea­son weekly flights from 10 to 16, with win­ter weekly flights ris­ing from seven to 14.

Mr Fin­nie said: “The fact that it is deemed nec­es­sary re­flects extremely badly on the Scot­tish Govern­ment, who have re­peat­edly failed to ad­e­quately up­grade the rail in­fra­struc­ture in the High­lands.

“Min­is­ters must ur­gently de­liver on pre­vi­ous prom­ises to pro­vide high quality and high speed rail links from the north, or more peo­ple will be forced to travel by air.”

He added: “There is ab­so­lutely no doubt that In­ver­ness needs bet­ter trans­port links, for peo­ple trav­el­ling both north and south.

“How­ever, given all we know about the im­pact air travel has on cli­mate change, it’s extremely con­cern­ing to see such a dra­matic in­crease in short­haul flights.”

A Scot­tish Govern­ment spokes­woman said: “With just un­der £8 bil­lion in­vested since 2007, this govern­ment has a proven track record of grow­ing Scot­land’s rail­ways.

“Work is pro­gress­ing on en­hance­ments on the Aberdeen to In­ver­ness line, paving the way for faster jour­neys and more fre­quent ser­vices start­ing from December 2018.

“We’re pro­gress­ing sta­tions at Dal­cross and Kin­tore to fur­ther con­nect com­mu­ni­ties in the High­lands to the cen­tral belt and beyond, while also in­vest­ing in im­proved cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ences through the con­tin­ued roll-out of our fleet.”

She added: “It shouldn’t be over­looked that the new flights mean trav­ellers will be able to do a day’s busi­ness in Lon­don, as well as giv­ing them greater op­tions when it comes to con­nect­ing with in­ter­na­tional des­ti­na­tions from the hub at Heathrow.

“It also makes it eas­ier for vis­i­tors to ex­pe­ri­ence the world class tourism of­fer­ing in the High­lands.”

De­spite Mr Fin­nie’s con­cerns, BA’s an­nounce­ment was broadly wel­comed by busi­ness lead­ers, politi­cians and air­port bosses.

In­ver­ness MP Drew Hendry said yes­ter­day: “We have al­ready seen the fan­tas­tic ben­e­fits flights to Heathrow bring to our econ­omy, our thriv­ing tourism sec­tor and for High­land res­i­dents.”

“Min­is­ters must ur­gently de­liver on pre­vi­ous prom­ises”

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