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5 May 2010

Ash cloud situation

Latest advice from the Met Office and Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) suggests that volcanic ash cloud cover above Scotland should clear overnight with normal air services expected to resume tomorrow.

The CAA has said that it is likely that services from Edinburgh Airport will resume at 7pm tonight with Glasgow expected to reopen at 1am.

Speaking after a meeting of the Scottish Government Resilience Cabinet sub-committee, Transport Minister Stewart Stevenson said:

"The Scottish Government Resilience Cabinet sub-committee met earlier this morning to ensure that everything possible is being done to respond to the impact of the return of volcanic ash over parts of Scotland.

"We received updates from key agencies, including the Met Office, CAA and the National Air Traffic Service (NATS), who are all responding to the challenges posed by the return of the ash to our airspace. SGoRR also discussed the importance that agencies ensure that all future passenger and customer information is accurate and consistent.

"We also discussed the mechanics of getting ballot boxes in place for tomorrow's UK Parliamentary election and received assurances from returning officers in Argyll and Bute, Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles that boxes are already deployed to allow tomorrow's poll to go ahead as planned.

"Train and bus operators have also once again moved quickly to boost capacity with additional bus services between Scotland and London and increased capacity on services between Glasgow and the Port of Stranraer.

"We appreciate that people will feel inconvenienced by further cancellations but we hope they will understand the need to follow the precautionary procedures. The Cabinet Sub-Committee will meet again tomorrow as we continue to monitor the situation closely.

"While current forecasts indicate that normal air services should resume tomorrow, this volcano is unpredictable and the threat of further volcanic ash cover in the coming weeks remains. Therefore officials from Scottish Resilience and our other Directorates will continue to liaise closely and remain ready to put our tried and tested contingency measures in place in the event of any future disruption."

Ongoing analysis of dust samples by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) demonstrates no risk at present to human health - health experts advise those with respiratory conditions, such as asthma, to keep medication to hand when outdoors.

Continuous environmental monitoring will be ongoing, using information from the network of 75 air monitoring sites and 25 radioactivity monitoring sites across Scotland.

Stewart Stevenson
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