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Last Updated: Thursday, 1 November 2007, 10:05 GMT
New plane planned for beach strip
Aircraft on beach at Barra
The beach landing strip is popular with tourists
A new aircraft designed to deal with rough terrain may be used for an island's beach landing strip.

The Scottish Government has indicated being in favour of using the plane rather than having to build a permanent runway on Barra.

The landing strip has been an issue for a number of years, and ministers are now examining a range of options.

Western Isles councillors said a permanent runway would probably have to be built in the long term.

Concern about the service was raised after it became clear the Twin Otter aircraft was being phased out all over the world.

Draw tourists

However, the aircraft's Canadian manufacturer has built a successor plane which can land on rough terrain.

Transport Minister Stewart Stevenson said that the aircraft cost half the amount it would take to build a permanent runway on the island.

He also felt that people wanted the opportunity to continue using the beach landing strip in Barra.

Mr Stevenson said he was considering a number of options, but Comhairle nan Eilean Siar convener Alex Macdonald said the continued use of the beach by a new larger aircraft would be acceptable and would continue to draw tourists.

Local people would have to be consulted about any proposed permanent runway, but he felt one would have to be built in the longer term.

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