Chief Planner at the Town & Country Planning Department Greg Adams has said the neighbouring business community in Trellis Bay will not be required to relocate to facilitate the runway extension project at the TB Lettsome International Airport. In contrast, those businesses could experience spin-off benefits from the multimillion-dollar project, he said.
Adams said the economic activity in the area could increase based on the projected volume of passengers expected to fly directly to the territory from international hubs.
“There are the pros and the cons – the noise is one thing, but the potential business is another thing. So there is a balance and a trade-off that we have to measure not just with this project but any sort of economic activity that comes under development,” Adams said.
“Does it (the project) limit some of the activity? You could argue that it does. But a lot of the businesses that are there can still continue to function. This alignment does not interfere with any property that is on Trellis Bay. It doesn’t encroach on them, it doesn’t push them out, it doesn’t take anybody’s property. This alignment goes out into the sea, so it doesn’t take away anybody’s livelihood,” he added.
Project to affect harbour
On the downside, Adams said the harbour in the area would be affected to some extent.
He explained that this is because the extended runway would protrude off the mouth of the harbour.
“But the harbour would be still viable for the boats to moor, and [will still continue] some of the economic activities we have now. So it doesn’t condemn the harbour outright,” he told BVI News following a recent public meeting on the project.
The Chief Planner said designs for the project includes installing what are known as hydraulic culverts under the runway. These culverts would facilitate water movement in the area.
“It (the water) doesn’t just cut it off,” he noted.
Adams said while there are those who are for and against the project, certain “critical decisions are yet to be made on the project”. These decisions, Adams said, would strike a good balance between what is important to supporters of the project and also that of detractors.
The project is estimated to cost some $250 million. Roughly $153 million of that sum will be used to extend the runway from 4,645 feet to about 7,100 feet so larger aircraft can land in the territory. The remaining funds are projected to go towards the development of the airport’s terminal building.
The project involves recruiting investors to develop and operate the airport for 20 to 30 years before returning control to the central government. In October of last year, Premier Dr D Orlando Smith said there would be progress on the project before he demits office.
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