THE First Minister has dismissed “so-called revelations” about the use of Prestwick Airport by the US military as “a load of bunkum”.
Nicola Sturgeon was challenged on the issue by Scottish Greens co-convener Patrick Harvie during First Minister’s Questions at Holyrood.
It followed a report in the Guardian newspaper stating the publicly owned airport was being used by the US military to launch frontline operations, and that Prestwick executives had attended military fairs in America to pursue contracts.
It also reported that Transport Scotland officials lobbied ministers to meet with the Trump Organisation to promote the airport, which is located close to the Trump Turnberry golf resort.
Ms Sturgeon said “there has been no contact whatsoever by the Scottish Government or Transport Scotland with the US military, with the Trump Organisation or Trump Turnberry in relation to Prestwick Airport”.
She added that the fact the airport “provides fixed based operations and refuelling opportunities for military flights is neither new nor is it a revelation”.
The Ayrshire hub had been doing this kind of work for 80 years, she added.
“This is not new, it is not a revelation, it’s a load of bunkum.”
Mr Harvie said the First Minister’s “dismissive response” was “extremely disappointing”.
“The First Minister denies that meetings took place between ministers and the Trump Organisation – no one is suggesting they had – but the discussions most certainly did take place.
“The First Minister should acknowledge that the government was aware of those discussions at the time.”
Dismaying to see some MSPs treat this as a joke. US air strikes have regularly killed civilians, including children for whom the sight of planes in the sky is no laughing matter. Scottish Government property should not be used to facilitate this. https://t.co/u1ybGecQMt
— Patrick Harvie ?? (@patrickharvie) February 8, 2018
Mr Harvie said that the public ownership of Prestwick – bought by the government in 2013 – had brought a “new responsibility” regarding its use.
“Public ownership does indeed carry a responsibility for the proper conduct of a business, yet this public asset which the First Minister has said should be looking to freight and retail development for its future, now appears to be basing its business model on servicing military attacks (Syrian airstrikes) that the Scottish Government claims to oppose and promoting the toxic Trump brand which can only damage Scotland’s reputation,” he said.