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Britain to build airport in mid Atlantic St Helena Island; vital link with Falklands

Friday, July 23rd 2010 - 06:00 UTC
Full article 126 comments
The imperial glory and genius of France, Napoleon died as a British prisoner in the island The imperial glory and genius of France, Napoleon died as a British prisoner in the island

Britain announced Thursday it had agreed to build an airport on the mid Atlantic island of Saint Helena, which is expected to become a vital link for the Falkland Islands air communications.

The project was halted two years ago by the Labour Government just as contracts were about to be signed to start work.

Liberal Democrat MP for Colchester and Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Island of St Helena Group, Bob Russell welcomed the Coalition Government’s announcement.

“This is wonderful news. I know that the islanders, some 4,000 of whom are proudly British, will be rejoicing”, said MP Russell.

“St Helenians are currently several days’ distance by ship to either Ascension Island or South Africa. An airport will mean they will be only hours from London and this will transform the economic viability of St Helena and its people”.

He added that “an airport will transform the island from being a recipient of UK taxpayers’ subsidy to one of economic self-sufficiency through discerning tourism and other economic activity”.

St Helena is not only an exotic destination, (2.000 kilometers to the nearest landmass) but could become a peregrination point for the French since Napoleon spent his last years in the island as a prisoner of the British and was buried there until 1840.when his remains were repatriated to Paris.

St Helena Governor Andrew Gurr could hardly contain his excitement over the announcement that the island’s long hoped for airport has at last been given the go-ahead.

“I saw a wonderful rainbow as I came down through Half Tree Hollow this morning” said the former Falkland Islands CEO interviewed by Penguin News.

“Although it has religious significance, mythically it has a pot of gold at the end”. He added that “well, our airport is no longer just a myth, and now we have the very real prospect of grasping that pot of gold – self sustainability within our own lifetimes”.

The announcement by the UK Government not only ends decades of frustration for St Helenians – the airport bid was first mooted in the 1960s – but it also anticipates unprecedented change.

Mr Gurr said St Helenians could now look forward to a burgeoning economy, major investment and tremendous opportunities for local industry, employment and tourism.

Tourist visitors alone are expected to leap from fewer than 1,000 a year to more than 29,000 after the airport is built.

More than 400 St Helenians live in the Falkland Islands. Their Government Representative, John Clifford told the Penguin News: “It’s very early days yet and there is a long way to go, but it is very positive for St Helena. I think there is great potential in this for both St Helena and the Falklands”.

Categories: Politics, Tourism, International.

Top Comments

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  • stick up your junta


    Jul 23rd, 2010 - 06:09 am 0
  • Hoytred

    stepping stones .... all the way down the Atlantic to Antartica :-)

    Jul 23rd, 2010 - 06:29 am 0
  • harrier61

    I was delighted to see this news in British online papers. The Saint Helenians deserve it.
    But I have concerns based on a couple of points. The last time an airport was to be constructed, it was expected to take 5 years. That is, from 2005 to 2010. By contrast, when it was decided to build RAF Mount Pleasant, it was apparently ready in 1984 or 1985 (accounts differ). Hopefully, the shorter time frame will be applied to Saint Helena's airstrip. In fact, it is to be hoped that the Sainbt Helena Legislative Council will be receptive to the idea of a combined RAF base and civil airport.

    Jul 23rd, 2010 - 08:32 am 0
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