THERE was disagreement between management and unions yesterday after Highland and Islands Airports Limited announced that its new centralised air traffic control centre will be based in Inverness.

Western Isles MP Angus MacNeil also weighed in to accuse HIAL of “empire building” at Inverness to the detriment of jobs and the economy of the islands.

Trade union Prospect said the decision means that high-paid jobs will be removed from HIALs other centres in Benbecula, Stornoway, Dundee, Wick, Kirkwall and Sumburgh “removing more than £3m of direct employment from rural economies once all post are relocated to Inverness”.

Prospect negotiations officer David Avery said: “The HIAL board has made this decision without undertaking an assessment on the impact on local communities. For our members, this is far too late and it’s clear HIAL intend to proceed regardless of what the report may tell them.

“Our members are highly skilled professional air traffic controllers who have significant operational and safety about the concept of remote towers and its implementation in Scotland. Their views on the overarching direction of the project have been ignored at every stage by HIAL.

MP MacNeil said: “It is absolutely no surprise that this is the game HIAL are playing, at the very beginning this was about their empire and jobs in Inverness. The Scottish Government will have to look at the real social and economic impacts of this.

HIAL managing director Inglis Lyon, said: “The scoping study identifies Inverness as having the most compelling case to support HIAL’s continued delivery of its core activities. We have also taken the views of our staff into account and Inverness was their preferred option should relocation be required.

“Inverness is best suited from a technical, operational and staffing perspective and is centrally located in relation to the other HIAL airports.”