Ministers urged to step in to boost city airport access

GOVERNMENT ministers are under pressure to step in and give top priority to a scheme which will improve road access to and from Glasgow Airport.

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Calls for action came after it was revealed Holyrood had dumped the west coast hub from a VIP list of development priorities.

The airport is currently listed on a national planning framework.

However, a new framework, NPH3, is being drawn-up and the airport has been dropped from the draft.

The snub comes several years after Holyrood ministers scrapped plans to spent more hundreds of millions of pounds on a direct rail link between the hub and Glasgow Central Station.

Stuart Patrick, chief executive of the Glasgow Chamber of Commerce, said: "The removal of a strategic prioritisation of better surface transport links, given that the Scottish Government has gone through a process of ­accessing what the options should be for that, does look like a rather strange decision.

"Is the Scottish Government so annoyed about the damage it suffered from the decision to drop the Glasgow Airport Rail Link that it is making strategic decisions that may adversely affect the long term health of the airport and beyond?

"We are more open-minded about light rail which would be part of a project to link Glasgow Airport to the whole Scottish rail network. That's critical and it's why we were so supportive of Crossrail. It shouldn't be a question of linking just into Central Station, there has to be a link to the whole Scottish rail network.

"The Government seems to be taking every step to ­ensure there will never be a heavy rail link to Glasgow Airport and we're beginning to wonder whether it is getting so focused on that, that it's potentially damaging the long-term prospects of not just Glasgow Airport, but the whole of the Glasgow economic region."

The row comes at a time when airport chiefs along with council leaders in Glasgow and Renfrewshire as well as Transport Scotland and independent consultants are expected to conclude a major study into how to deal with the ongoing problem of "surface access".

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: "Our consultation on the Main Issues Report for NPF3 in 2013 broadly suggested that we could carry forward support for surface transport access to all airports as part of a collective national development.

"The proposed Framework sets out more detailed ­descriptions for each of the airports and some do not require access improvements.

"For Glasgow, the GASTN study has not yet concluded, so we could not define what form any potential future ­improvements should take.

"The Proposed NPF3 has identified the strategic enhancement of Scotland's five main airports as a national development.

"There is no question of secrecy in relation to the NPF3. The Scottish Government will give careful consideration to the views of Parliament before finalising National Planning Framework 3 in June 2014."

An Airport spokesman said: "We will be responding to the call for views on NPF3. However, we would never publicly comment until we have made formal representations."

gordon.thomson@eveningtimes.co.uk

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