Guernsey Airport runway extension plans under fire from opponents
Airport’s runway project drop-ins held
Public drop-ins are being held to allow islanders to ask questions about the
plans for improvement works to Guernsey Airport’s runway safety areas.
The £81m project approved by the States includes the reconstruction of the runway
and the extension of the current boundaries to the west.
A report published earlier this month by consultants Mott MacDonald found the
planned improvements were essential.
Graham Ruddock, its author, is one of those on hand to answer questions.
The report found the necessary extensions could only be achieved within the existing
boundaries by shortening the current runway, which it concluded would have a serious
and unacceptable impact on local air links.
Mott MacDonald also investigated using a collapsible concrete system, called
EMAS and designed to bring an aircraft overrunning the runway to a controlled
halt, estimating it would cost more than £6m than the current plans.
Public Services Minister Bernard Flouquet, whose department is responsible for
the project, said every aspect was being planned in great detail.
He said: “This is one of the most complex and extensive engineering projects
that has ever been seen locally.
“I am sure that there are many aspects which islanders want to learn about or
understand better, and the drop-in will be an opportunity for them to do this.”
Mr Ruddock, Guernsey Airport management and Public Services’ project design consultants
are all due to be available at the drop-ins.
They are due to be held in the airport’s conference room, upstairs in the terminal
building, from 1200-2000 GMT on Thursday 17 February and 1200-1700 GMT on Friday
Building a special barrier to stop planes overshooting Guernsey Airport’s runway
would cost £6m more than a safety area extension, consultants say.
Mott MacDonald also found the airfield boundaries would still need extending
if a barrier was built.
This plan was found to be the cheapest of the options looked at by the review.
A debate on the compulsory purchase of land needed to extend the safety areas
was delayed last month until this report was published.
Mott MacDonald was asked to assess various options and identify whether these
would meet regulatory standards and what the associated costs would be.
The options included using the EMAS (Engineered Arresting Systems Corporation)
system, which is produced by US company Zodiac and uses crushable concrete to
bring aircraft overrunning the end of the runway to a stop, as well as the extended
grass runway end safety area plan approved by the States in 2009.
One of the alternatives looked at the possibilities of grass safety areas without
the need for the compulsory purchase of land.
The consultants found the necessary safety areas could be achieved without the
compulsory purchase of land, but it would increase costs by about £1.5m and involve
moving the runway further west than currently planned.
It concluded the improvements to the safety areas were essential and could not
be achieved within the existing airport boundaries without shortening the runway,
which it said would have “a significant and unacceptable effect on commercial
air transport operations”.
‘Urgent and essential’
Graham Ruddock, from the consultants, said there was no clear recommendation
as each option had its benefits, but entailed additional costs.
The Public Services Department, which is behind the proposed improvement work,
welcomed the report.
Minister Bernard Flouquet said: “There have been accusations the department has
not considered alternatives, particularly in light of recent developments as far
as EMAS is concerned.
“I hope this independent review reassures islanders that has not been the case,
and Public Services has in fact not only considered various options, but has maintained
an open mind.
“We have never doubted that EMAS is an effective system, but we can meet the
appropriate safety provisions without incurring millions of pounds in additional
costs EMAS would entail.”
He added: “This project is now both urgent and essential to the future economic
well-being of the island, and any further delay could be very costly.”
February 20th, 2011 by Guernsey Airport Campaign
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