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Report casts doubt on need to demolish Airport terminal

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DEMOLITION of Jersey’s historic 1937 Airport building is unnecessary, according to a new report by airport safety experts, with the Environment Minister seeking clarification from Dominic Lazarus, the director of Civil Aviation.

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The new report by Aeronautical Services and Procedures (ASAP) – experts recognised by the Civil Aviation Authority – says that the building has no effect on landing or take-off in bad weather and that there is no reason to impose stricter landing limits on aircraft.

In the light of the report, Deputy Young has now asked Mr Lazarus whether concerns first expressed by the former director of Civil Aviation ten years ago still apply.

Meanwhile, former Environment Minister Rob Duhamel, who granted permission to demolish the building in 2014, said that he was surprised that some of the report’s conclusions were at loggerheads with information he had been given at the time.

As minister, Mr Duhamel had accepted that the building must be demolished for safety reasons, following recommendations made by the Planning Department. However, documents published on the government website show the efforts he made to explore alternatives to allow it to be retained as the Airport was redeveloped.

Current Planning committee chairman Deputy Russell Labey, who last week lodged a proposition calling for Ports of Jersey to provide a review of the entire Airport redevelopment project and delay demolition of the historic building, said that the new report made it appropriate to re-examine the case for demolishing the building on safety grounds.

‘It seems to me that there are questions in terms of whether the minister, when granting permission to demolish, was in possession of all the information that he needed. For such an important building, we are entitled to ask whether we are absolutely sure that there is no alternative to demolition,’ he said.

He added that it was not clear whether the original case made to the Planning Department had been supported by a detailed aeronautical study but that, if it had, that study should now be made available too for comparative purposes.

The new ASAP report, commissioned by Save Jersey’s Heritage, casts doubt on claims that the location of the 1937 building – within an area called the ‘transitional surface’ – poses a danger to aircraft.

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It also says that there was no reason to contemplate introducing stricter landing limits which would have made the Airport more vulnerable to delays in bad weather.

The report also points out that, although the old terminal building is inside the ‘transitional surface’, the new control tower also falls within the same designated area.

In terms of risks to aircraft, the old terminal ‘does not represent a risk of collision more than that of an aircraft flying into the runway itself’. And it adds: ‘It is interesting to note that the control tower has a similar risk value as the 1937 terminal building.’

The JEP has invited Mr Lazarus to comment on the ASAP report but has received no response. It has also asked Ports of Jersey to comment on the ASAP report and to confirm whether a previous study exists.

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