Fri 18th Jul 2014

New Argyle runway orientation has increased risk of serious aircraft accident

The ULP regime's Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for Argyle airport, recommended a runway orientation of 02/20. The runway's south end would have been at Stubbs Hill and at its north end would have been ending in the sea.

However, the EIA has been ignored and the runway orientation has been hastily changed, anti-clockwise, placing the north end of the runway much closer to the cliff at Peruvian Vale. The new Argyle runway orientation has increased the risk of flight hazards and a serious plane crash.

The Argyle airport has very strong and dangerous crosswinds. The new orientation of the Argyle Airport runway makes the crosswinds even more dangerous to aircrafts (as the wind is even more perpendicular to aircrafts) and increases the risk of an aircraft being blown in to the side of the now closer cliff face or flipping over.

Another critical problem with the Argyle airport, is that the runway is too narrow for an instrument approach runway. Argyle's runway strip will be restricted to only 2 x 75m, instead of the 2 x 150m that is needed for an instrument approach runway (source: EIA).

In bad weather conditions, and especially in the dark, planes cannot be guided in to the runway. In these bad weather conditions, there is a serious risk of a planes crashing in to the Peruvian Vale cliff face. The new runway orientation brings aircrafts too close to the cliff face. This is a major flight safety hazard, especially in the final approach when landing at Argyle Airport under dangerous strong perpendicular winds.

These increased flight risks due to the new runway orientation, and the fact that the runway has failed a compaction test and has water underneath it, means that it is highly unlikely that Argyle Airport will ever get a licence to operate international passenger flights.

The original project cost was EC$502 million, however, about EC$700 million has been wasted on this airport for tourists. Meanwhile, the people of SVG have been neglected. Our people have been starved of employment, and we have seen reductions in funding for education for our children and healthcare for Vincentians.

All around the country, the evidence shows that the irrational and extreme focus on an airport for tourists, at all costs, has had a massive negative impact upon our people, businesses, jobs and the economy. Poverty and unemployment is increasing, many households are having their water and electricity cut off and there is an increase in violent crime.

A Green government will put the needs of Vincentians first, not tourists. We would have invested the EC$700 million in a university, factories to create jobs for our people and infrastructure to stimulate a growth in small businesses.

Several weeks ago the Leader of SVG Green Party, Mr Ivan O'Neal, asked the Argyle airport Public Relations Officer for the Argyle runway orientation to be made public. Details of the new orientation seem to be hidden from the public.

For the serious flight safety reasons given above, we make a very strong call on policy makers to abort the Argyle Airport project now. We should not wait for a plane accident at Argyle Airport to close the Argyle Airport.

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