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11/2/2015 - HITRANS appoints officer to spearhead rural airports project


HITRANS, the regional transport partnership for the Highlands and Islands, has appointed a project officer to spearhead a significant European-funded project to assist and develop rural and remote airports with use of new technologies.

Jayne Westbrook took over this week as Project Officer of SPARA 2020, which stands for Smart Peripheral and Remote Airports - a three-year £1.8 million Northern Periphery and Arctic Programme area project.

Jayne, who will report to HITRANS Director Ranald Robertson, has been working as a Graduate Business Support Officer with HITRANS for the past six months.

She attended Nairn Academy and graduated with a 2:1 MA Honours in Business Studies from the University of Edinburgh.

Jayne said:  “I am delighted with my appointment to co-ordinate and support the delivery of this exciting Euro project. Airports in rural communities are a lifeline for our residents and vital for our local businesses. This project will hopefully strengthen the role that they play by identifying ways of operating in a more eco-friendly and cost effective way.”

Mr Robertson said: “We are delighted with Jayne’s appointment – a fixed term two year contract during which time she will work with our partners to drive this project forward. She has the skills, dedication and drive that we are looking for.”


SPARA 2020 brings together a range of public authorities, academic institutions, airports, small businesses and specialists to focus on the particular challenges of airports serving remote and peripheral areas.

The aim of the project is to heighten awareness of the importance to rural and remote communities of local air services and to use innovative technologies to make them as cost effective and environmentally friendly as possible.

HITRANS, which represents Councils serving the Highlands, Western Isles, Orkney, Moray and Argyll and Bute, is the lead partner.  Other Scottish partners include the University of the Highlands and Islands and Robert Gordon University whilst Sweden is represented with Trafikverket (The Swedish Transport Administration), Sundsvall Timrå Airport and Storuman Municipality.  The North West Regional Assembly (NWRA) of Ireland will represent airports such as Donegal and Ireland West (Knock) in the project.  Molde University in Norway and the University of Sydney is Australia are the other project partners.

SPARA 2020 was launched by Scottish Minister for Transport and the Islands Derek Mackay last month.

The project will include work on Innovative Technologies to improve airport performance and control cost.  This will involve a close examination of Remote Air Traffic and Remote Security technologies as well as distributed training, benefiting from broadband and communication technology advances.


Mindful of aviation’s carbon footprint, two work strands have been developed to foster more sustainable energy use in the sector. 

Low carbon fuel airport surface access demonstrator trials are being developed by HITRANS in partnership with their member Councils, Energy Savings Trust and Highlands and Islands Airports (HIAL) at airports in the Highlands and Islands.  These are designed to be low carbon exemplar projects on how to decarbonise links from the airport to its local population centres.  It is hoped this will include support for electric bus operation, EV car hire and electric/plug-in hybrid taxis roll out to serve airports.  The business case for offering biofuels to incoming aircraft at the region’s airports will be examined in some detail learning from some pioneering work at Karlstadt Airport in Sweden.

 The project also intends to examine in some detail the distinct socio-cultural role that airports play in the Northern Periphery and Arctic area and also to refine and improve economic impact assessment methodologies of SPARA airports with a view to better guide future public investment.  This will include studies led by RGU at airports in Ireland, Scotland and possibly Sweden.



Note:  The Northern Periphery and Arctic Programme 2014-2020, is funded by the ERDF, and more generally aims to help peripheral and remote communities on the northern margins of Europe to develop their economic, social and environmental potential.




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