Highland Councillors have given their backing to the business case for bringing air services to the Isle of Skye and are to continue lobbying the Scottish Government and its agencies at the highest level.
Following assessment of the business case at the Isle of Skye and Raasay Committee, members of the Council’s Planning, Development and Infrastructure Committee had the opportunity to discuss the wider economic and social benefits of having an airport on Skye and examined the short-term action plan to take forward some key development activities.
The Committee agreed up to £30,000 over the next 2 years to take forward the activities that have been identified that will unblock the delivery of air services.
Within hours of the decision local campaigners FlySkye issued their own statement via social media. They said: "At long last!
"We all knew the airport would bring economic benefits to the island and surrounding mainland districts and have been saying that since the very beginning of the campaign to restore regular flights between our airstrip at Ashaig, near Broadford, with the Central Belt, for over 4 years.
"However, we are all going to have to be patient for even longer. Another 2 years may not seem very long in local government terms, but to a small, local business it is a very long time.
"Let's keep up the pressure"
The Skye Air Services Business Case 2016 Report was commissioned through HITRANS (Regional Transport Partnership) as a collaborative study involving Highland Council and Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE).
The report sets out a broad assessment of the wider socio-economic benefits of reintroducing scheduled air services to Skye. There are estimated to be significant financial benefits over 30 years totalling in the region of £36m to £46m, depending on the aircraft capacity introduced. The benefit:cost ratio is estimated to be around 2:21 which means that for every £1 spent in investment, there would be £2.21 of benefit to the area.
Chair of the Committee, Councillor Audrey Sinclair said: “Good transport links, including regional air connectivity, are vital to the economic success of communities in the Highlands and Islands. The report presented to the committee showed the airport would be of benefit to local businesses. Also people want to come and visit our beautiful region and we want to make it as easy as possible for them to access all that we have to offer.
“Due to the location of the airstrip it won’t only bring benefits to the Isle of Skye but Lochalshm Wester Ross, the wider west coast of the Highlands will also benefit.
“The Council, in partnership with HITRANS and Highlands and Islands Enterprise, will continue to lobby Transport Scotland and the Scottish Government to establish how the proposed development strategy for the airport may be progressed.”
The report confirms that a new airport on Skye could open in around two years.