Politician calls for review of £42m Airport redevelopment

THE £42 million Airport redevelopment should be reviewed in the light of the coronavirus crisis, a backbencher has said.

Picture: PORTS OF JERSEY. (28543198)
Picture: PORTS OF JERSEY. (28543198)

Deputy Russell Labey yesterday[Wednesday] lodged a proposition calling on Treasury Minister Susie Pinel – as shareholder representative with Ports of Jersey – to ask the company to take the project back to the States in a review of its ‘scale, detail and viability’, and to delay demolition of the original terminal building.

‘It is surprising that we have heard almost nothing from Ports of Jersey, a company wholly-owned by the Government of Jersey, about whether their planned £42 million redevelopment of the Airport will be fit for purpose or, indeed, given the unknown long-term effect on passenger numbers, financially viable.

‘It cannot be right that the board of Ports of Jersey should plough ahead with a scheme designed in a pre-pandemic world without taking full account of the changed aviation landscape,’ Deputy Labey said in his proposition.

Yesterday’s move follows a report by airport safety consultants focusing on one of the most controversial elements of the proposed redevelopment – the demolition of the original 1937 terminal building.

Permission to demolish the building, whose proximity to the runway does not conform to Civil Aviation Authority guidelines, was secured because of its impact on the operation of the Airport, particularly in bad weather.

But the new report, commissioned by Save Jersey’s Heritage from ASAP – specialists in airport safety who have worked on behalf of the Island and are recognised by the CAA – states that retaining the original building is not relevant to the issue of whether aircraft can land in bad weather, one of two principal concerns raised.

In his proposition Deputy Labey calls for the permission granted to demolish the building to be reviewed.

Deputy Labey also claims that disruption caused by the proximity of the taxiway to the terminal building – the other principal ground for demolishing the building – was overstated by Ports of Jersey and that a number of other European airports operate successfully in similar circumstances.

‘No one would argue that the Airport needs improving but is there community support for such improvement at a cost of £42 million when there are so many other demands upon the public purse?’ the Deputy asked.

President of Save Jersey’s Heritage Marcus Binney described the 1937 terminal building as ‘a pioneering example of early Modern Movement architecture showing the Island in the vanguard of the new age of air travel and the International Style’.

‘For years Jersey’s 1937 Airport Terminal has appeared doomed because of problems with its proximity to the runway and taxiway but this new, expert report concludes that these are not the obstacles they were thought to be and can be resolved.

‘We very much hope both Ports of Jersey and the government will study this report carefully, not least because it could open the way to major savings in the proposed £42 million remodelling of the Airport,’ Mr Binney said.

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