Gail Ross (pictured), MSP for Caithness, Sutherland and Ross has today said that she will be contacting the First Minister in order to kickstart the introduction of a PSO for Wick John O’Groats Airport which previously connected Wick with Edinburgh and Aberdeen.
This year has seen both the Wick – Edinburgh route and the Wick – Aberdeen route cancelled, with no prospect of them being reinstated without government intervention.
Gail Ross stated:
“I am frustrated on the lack of progress from Transport Scotland on implementing this PSO.
“It has been a tough year for Wick John O’Groats Airport and we absolutely must do everything in our power to make sure that the airport remains operational and the staff are retained.
“I was happy to be given this assurance today from Transport Scotland.
“However, the timescales we are now looking at mean a great deal more uncertainty for everyone.
“The airport provided the people of Caithness, Sutherland and Ross with a lifeline to Aberdeen and the Central Belt and any delays in progressing with the PSO will be disastrous for the area.
“The economic growth of the north of Scotland is reliant on good transport links such as the one Wick John O’Groats Airport has thus far given.
“It is simply unsustainable for business, tourism and the wider community to continue to ask people to make a nine-hour train journey, an eight-hour bus journey or a seven-hour drive to and from the Central Belt or the North East.
“This year I have spoken with the Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity and have urged him on several occasions to support the routes from Wick becoming a PSO routes.
“I will now also be writing to the First Minister to ask her to look into this issue as a matter of urgency.
“My constituents and I cannot continue to be disadvantaged and isolated for where we choose to live.
“MSPs and MPs and local councillors across all parties have expressed support for the introduction of a PSO as have businesses and the local authority.
“The Caithness Chamber of Commerce compiled an excellent business case in support earlier this year which puts forward sensible pricing and timetabling options, two issues that had previously been critical to passenger numbers falling.
“I am satisfied that Transport Scotland now have all the information that they need to put forward a solid business case to the Scottish Government to progress this to the next stage.
“The worry is that the timescales are still unknown and I urge both parties to prioritise this as a matter of urgency.”