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Stone calls for PSO at Wick John O'Groats Airport in video message

By Alan Hendry

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North MP Jamie Stone has turned to social media to issue a fresh call for a public service obligation (PSO) to protect Caithness air links.

Mr Stone, the Liberal Democrat MP for Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross, first wrote to Scotland's transport secretary Michael Matheson in July 2018 urging the Scottish Government to provide support to Wick John O'Groats Airport.

The loss of the Wick/Edinburgh and Wick/Aberdeen routes earlier this year left Caithness without scheduled air services.

Amid continuing concerns about the airport's future, Mr Stone has now pleaded with Nicola Sturgeon to act.

Addressing the First Minister on social media, Mr Stone said: "The future of Wick airport is very, very, very much in question. What we need from the Scottish Government is a public service obligation – that's a legal document that says Wick airport has got to stay open.

"I've been writing again and again to the Scottish Government saying, 'Please give us a PSO for Wick because, without it, Wick airport could close.'

"Nicola Sturgeon... please give us a PSO. Please do it. And if you don't, you're just going to be ignoring everyone in the far north."

At the same time, business and community leaders in the far north are demanding "decisive action" by the Scottish Government to safeguard the airport.

Local Highland councillors will submit a cross-party motion of support for the PSO business case to a meeting of the Caithness Committee on October 22, and make the case for revenue funding of the airport to the full Highland Council. The motion will also call for an urgent decision by Transport Scotland.

A spokesperson for Transport Scotland said: “We are considering carefully the business case submitted by the Caithness Chamber of Commerce for the direct subsidy of air services to Wick and will respond as soon as possible.

“We have been clear that any intervention would require multiple funding partners to restore scheduled services at Wick.”

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