Support given to HIAL's Remote Towers proposal: FOI release

Information request and response under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002.

FOI reference: FOI/18/01051
Date received: 4 April 2018
Date responded: 11 April 2018

Information requested

Minutes from meetings, or other supporting documentation, that show the reasoning behind the support given to HIAL's Remote Towers proposal. You clarified this by asking for documentation that justifies either the decision to hand over responsibility for the decision for the Remote Towers proposal to HIAL or that approves HIAL's decision making.


While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance the Scottish Government does not have the information you have requested. The reasons why we don't have the information are explained below.

Reasons for not providing information

The information you have requested does not exist. On 8 January 2018 the HIAL Board agreed in principle to take forward the long term Remote Towers and Centralised Air Passenger Surveillance air traffic management solution proposed by independent aviation consultants Helios. There was no subsequent meeting where HIAL presented this to the Scottish Government or where they tried to gain support for the proposal. This is a matter for the HIAL Board and neither Scottish Government Ministers nor officials have been directly involved in the decision making process as we do not have the necessary knowledge or expertise in this area. The HIAL Board is appointed by Scottish Ministers to oversee the operation of the company. Part of the appointment process is ensuring that the Board has the full range of knowledge and skills necessary to effectively carry out its duties.

The relationship between Scottish Ministers / Transport Scotland and HIAL is set out in the 'Highlands and Islands Airports Limited (HIAL) Framework Document'. This includes the extent of the HIAL Board's authority. The Framework Document can be viewed on the HIAL web site at:

The role of the Chair and the Non-Executive Members of the HIAL Board is to represent Scottish Ministers' interests. They should provide constructive challenge to HIAL's management team to ensure that the company is operating in line with Ministerial expectations. We support the HIAL Board and are confident that their decision making is robust and evidence based.

HIAL is owned by Scottish Ministers. We provide subsidy to HIAL to ensure that its airports remain open to all commercial traffic as HIAL is unable to generate sufficient revenue to cover the cost of its operation. The Remote Towers and Centralised Air Passenger Surveillance air traffic management solution is a long term project and is at a very early stage. Decisions on specific sources of funding for the project will be taken at a later date. HIAL have yet to submit a business case seeking funding for this project. It is important to note that the HIAL Board's decision is in principle. It is not the case that all aspects of the project have been finalised. The location of the Remote Tower centre, for example, has not yet been decided upon. The next phase of the project will involve more in depth work to establish the practical requirements of implementing the Remote Towers solution.

In due course, HIAL will submit a full business case for this project and at that time we will consider if funding should be given. This decision will be based upon the financial resources available and the priorities of Scottish Ministers at that time.

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Please quote the FOI reference

Central Enquiry Unit
Phone: 0300 244 4000

The Scottish Government
St Andrew's House
Regent Road

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