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Old May 21st, 2008, 09:45 PM   #1
Pompey77
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MISC | The British Overseas Territory of Saint Helena: Air Access Project

St Helena, a mountainous volcanic outcrop just 10 miles by six, has always been celebrated for its remoteness. It is 1,200 miles from Africa, 1,800 miles from South America and 700 miles from Ascension Island, the next nearest land. The island is the deeply eroded summit of a composite volcano, which lends St Helena its extraordinarily dramatic topography.

Long in decline, with no industry or resources and a dwindling population, the island receives more than £13m a year in support from the British Government, making its citizens among the most heavily subsidised of the UK dependants. The majority of this subsidy is spent on maintaining and operating the RMS St Helena which is the only regular ship to call at Saint Helena and its dependants (Ascension and Tristan Da Cunha). It is the islands lifeline to the outside world and can cause considerable concern to islanders if it is delayed or breaks down as the vast majority of food is imported.

In an attempt to remedy the socio-economic difficulties on the island the British government plans to build an airport costing at least £40million which, it hopes, will boost the prosperity of islanders through tourism and help stop the exodus of its already small population to Britain looking for work.

The airport is designed to cater for aircraft up to the size of an Airbus A320 and Boeing 737-800 and will have a total runway length of 2250meters. It will be built on the largest piece of flat land on the island - Prosperous Bay Plain - a rocky desert like area high up on the eastern cost of the island.

In order to build an airport of this size on what is such a remote and undeveloped island will require a new 14 km access road which will be by a long way the longest road on the island, and a new permanent wharf in Ruperts Bay near to the islands capital Jamestown. Also new bulk fuel storage facilities in Ruperts valley, a temporary quarry site in Ruperts valley and a new water supply to cater for the airports needs.

After a considerable wait by islanders the application for Development Permission was formally submitted to the Governor in Council on 5 May 2008. It is being designed and project managed by Atkins and the contract tender for construction has identified Basil Read and Impregilo as the primary contenders a period of competitive negotiations with both of these companies is to determine the preferred contractor.

http://www.sainthelenaaccess.com/

http://www.sainthelena.gov.sh/

Overview showing location of all the various aspects of the project:


View of runway and terminal buildings from the old telegraph signal station:


View of airside facilities and terminal buildings:


View of terminal entrance:


Internal view of terminal entrance area, check-in on right hand side in the distance:


Internal view of terminal departure lounge:


View of proposed wharf in Ruperts Bay, shaded area shows location of temporary wharf. On the far left just up from the sea wall is the existing bulk fuel store which is to be replaced with a new facility further up the valley:
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Old May 21st, 2008, 11:02 PM   #2
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This can only be a good thing for the island. I'd love to see this go forward. I never knew this island existed.
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Old May 21st, 2008, 11:19 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FM 2258 View Post
This can only be a good thing for the island. I'd love to see this go forward. I never knew this island existed.
Same here, first I have heard of the place

Looks an interesting development. Is it still just in the planning stages?
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Old May 22nd, 2008, 12:46 AM   #4
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Quote:
Is it still just in the planning stages?
yeah the application was submitted 2 weeks ago.
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Old May 22nd, 2008, 01:40 AM   #5
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It's famous for being the place where Napolean was exiled after losing at Waterloo.

Wouldn't it be far cheaper to the British Government just to pay each inhabitant 10,000 pounds to relocate to a bigger island or Britain itself? I can't see a reason to keep subsidizing them. If they want a human presence, they can always keep a navy station there.
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Old May 22nd, 2008, 01:55 AM   #6
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No because I want to fly there some day now that I know about this place.

Plus having an airport there may well be an excellent investment to bring in more money to the British economy.
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Old May 22nd, 2008, 02:06 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by urbanfan89 View Post
It's famous for being the place where Napolean was exiled after losing at Waterloo.

Wouldn't it be far cheaper to the British Government just to pay each inhabitant 10,000 pounds to relocate to a bigger island or Britain itself? I can't see a reason to keep subsidizing them. If they want a human presence, they can always keep a navy station there.
It might be cheaper for the government to do that but it wouldn’t be right would it. There has been a population on the island for 500 years people have come from all over the world notably Africa, China and Britain to settle there and as a result the island has developed a unique culture and history which cannot and should not be transplanted somewhere else or destroyed for the sake of £10,000. This is their home and the British government has a responsibility to make sure that it is maintained as such.

A forced removal from a British Overseas Territory took place in the 1960's on the Chagos Archipelago (or the British Indian Ocean Territory as the government would prefer we called it) and destroyed an idyllic community with no real or lasting relationship with the British government and certainly no connection with the US whose military bases now lies where their homes once stood. The high court has repeatedly ruled in favour of the Chagossians returning to the islands but the British government still does not allow it.

When I see such enormous protests against the Chinese government and their role in Tibet etc I can’t help thinking that people should look closer to home to see the injustices that our government is involved in.
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Old June 5th, 2008, 07:10 PM   #8
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There have been some negative reactions to the proposed design of the airport terminal building which has led to the creation of a pressure group called United Pressure Lobby for an Inspiring Flight Terminal or UPLIFT. They have written to the governor and had the letter published in the islands press.

This is the response as published in the St Helena Independent from the project manager:


Quote:
ACCESS PROJECT – AIRPORT TERMINAL

I read with interest, the letter from UPLIFT published in last week’s media, expressing concern about the visual quality of the proposed airport terminal building.

As we have been explaining throughout this Public Information Week, the terminal, like all other components of the scheme such as the haul road, the jetty, the new bulk fuel farm, etc., are at this time, all completed to ‘reference design’ stage only with full detailed designs to follow.

Our current most important objective is to ensure that the development permission application includes the appropriate footprint and design necessary to enable safe and effective airport operations. Other issues, such as the look of the terminal, will form further discussions with the tenderers as we work our way through the list of project priorities. It has always been our intention to ensure the terminal serves as a gateway to St Helena and this is reflected in our materials specification. The use of local stone, cut by our own craftsmen where possible, will provide the local feature element and will serve to ease the building sympathetically into the sensitive semi-desert environment where it will sit at Prosperous Bay Plain. The local stone will also complement the use of the glass which, when put together, is expected to form a seamless external/internal transition for passengers and visitors alike.

We have been extremely careful throughout the planning of this project
to ensure that full consideration is given to environmental impacts. We do not
believe that the example terminal buildings printed with UPLIFT’s letter in the
Independent last week will fit well into an area of such great ecological importance. During the development of the reference designs, advice was sought throughout from Faber Maunsell, the project’s environmental advisors to ensure the minimum build impact on such an eco-sensitive area.

In addition to the environmental impact, we must also think sensibly about affordability. We can assure you all that, as with other key project elements, it was always an expectation of ours to have further discussions on the terminal building during negotiations to see what variations the contractor might propose which are environmentally acceptable and sits within our budget limits. It is only during the detailed design stage, once we have entered into a contract that the appearance of the terminal will be finalised. We will keep you informed.

Sharon Wainwright
SHG Access Project Manager
29th May 2008
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Old June 5th, 2008, 07:28 PM   #9
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brilliant and about time! great there having a airport!

follow us st helena! follow Jerseys success!
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Old June 6th, 2008, 12:19 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pompey77 View Post
There have been some negative reactions to the proposed design of the airport terminal building which has led to the creation of a pressure group called United Pressure Lobby for an Inspiring Flight Terminal or UPLIFT. They have written to the governor and had the letter published in the islands press.

This is the response as published in the St Helena Independent from the project manager:
I like the idea of having the locals put a say into what the terminal looks like. I think they will be the best people to use to find the perfect design.
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Old June 6th, 2008, 01:46 AM   #11
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Im not sure. I quite like the design of the terminal building and the way it will fit in the landscape well. It is inspired by the islands fortifications and i like the symoblism of that in that it will provide a safe and strong gateway to the island.
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Old June 9th, 2008, 03:46 PM   #12
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So can anyone give some idea as to from where this airport will be served mainly, is it reachable for A320 or 738 from the UK?
At the moment I understand the only way tourists can reach the island is to take the RMS St. Helena from Cape Town, which only runs a few times a year.
Obviously from Cape Town and Johannesburg it's reachable, so that's very likely destinations...
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Old June 9th, 2008, 06:17 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by grjplanes View Post
So can anyone give some idea as to from where this airport will be served mainly, is it reachable for A320 or 738 from the UK?
At the moment I understand the only way tourists can reach the island is to take the RMS St. Helena from Cape Town, which only runs a few times a year.
Obviously from Cape Town and Johannesburg it's reachable, so that's very likely destinations...

Not a chance in hell a A320/737 could fly here from the UK.
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Old June 10th, 2008, 12:40 AM   #14
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The plan as I understand it is initially for a service form Cape Town with the possibility of other services to Ascension Island and also London. I don’t know how that would work im guessing it would have to refuel somewhere?
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Old June 12th, 2008, 03:26 PM   #15
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Interesting thread... just placed this development on the South African and Cape Town aviation threads. Cape Town is indeed logical for air services, as even the St.Helena Island Tourism website quotes Cape Town as being the "only close place of importance to St. Helena." According to my estimates, only a 3hr45min flight from CT... NOT BAD!!! If they wanted to operate routes to London, a stop would be needed, as both an A320 and B737-800 have ranges of around 3,000 nautical miles. London-Lagos-St.Helena may be an option (hello Sir Richard? Virgin Nigeria perhaps?)

Last edited by annman; June 12th, 2008 at 03:32 PM.
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Old June 12th, 2008, 04:12 PM   #16
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Cheers Annman.

I’ve discovered a few interesting bits of information in amongst the planning documents which i posted on the thread in the UK forum ages ago:
  • It is expected that construction of the scheme will commence in 2008 and is estimated to continue for four years and six months.
  • The population, including visitors and tourists, is forecast to increase from about 4000 to around 8000 over an approximate 20 year period.
  • Significant economic growth is expected including a 330% increase in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 30 years and increase in employment by 2,000 jobs in 25 years from commencement of airport operation.
  • Increase in tourist numbers from around 800 per year to over 50,000 per year 25 years from the opening of the airport.

This is the negative factor which i think needs to be looked at and a way found to create new habitats elsewhere on the island similar to what currently exists on the plain:
Quote:
Permanent loss of, and/or changes to, parts of the Central Basin of Prosperous Bay Plain. A significant proportion of unique habitat used by endemic insects and spiders is likely to be affected.
It has been suggested that some species of endemic invertebrates only found on Prosperous Bay plain could be pushed to extinction.
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Old June 12th, 2008, 04:14 PM   #17
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More from the planning documents:
Quote:
2.2.5.4 Future Fisheries Protection Building
Located north of the Terminal Building is an area designated for a future fisheries protection building for the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office which would be the subject of a separate planning application. General provision has been made for both landside and airside access from the circulation road and via a future apron extension respectively and underground services will be designed to accommodate this site.

Space has also been provided on the airport, at the request of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, for an apron area to accommodate two fisheries protection aircraft. Although there are no plans at present for the establishment of a fisheries protection service if it does occur then the aircraft will be two small, twin turboprop aircraft capable of carrying about six passengers. These aircraft would fly between St Helena and Ascension Island and provide fisheries protection for both islands. From the St
Helena perspective, there would be about six aircraft take offs and landings per week.

2.3.10 In-Shore Sea Rescue
There will be an in-shore sea rescue lifeboat, Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) Tyne class or equivalent moored at Jamestown or at some other place as agreed by SHG, the Contractor and Air Safety Support International (ASSI). The boat will be specially equipped with liferafts and detection gear to enable it to be used for sea rescue of passengers from a ditched aircraft up a range of about 50 nautical mile (nm) from St Helena.
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Old June 17th, 2008, 08:24 AM   #18
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Here is a story from Property Week in 2005 about a consortium of prominent British property developers planning to invest in St Helena:

Quote:
St Helena has attracted a group of prominent property figures. Among them are Peter Kershaw and Peter Allport, who set up the HQ Global chain of managed business space, Grafton Advisors partner Nigel Kempner and ISG chairman David King.

They are investing in an ‘eco-development’ that aims to create 300 jobs, boost the island’s economy and protect its fragile environment. They plan to build a 300-room hotel, about 50 villas and a golf course. Read the rest here
Their joint venture SHELCO (St Helena Leisure Corporation) doesnt have much of a website; http://www.shelco.sh/

I know this information isn’t exactly new and little more has been heard of their plans but it is still expected to become reality in the coming years.
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Old June 30th, 2008, 06:05 PM   #19
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From the St Helena Independant:http://www.saint.fm/Independent/index.htm
Quote:

The RMS is progressing towards Cape Town slowly after its
starboard stabiliser was damaged last Wednesday.
A press release yesterday said that “due to the anticipated
speed required for the intended estimated time of arrival into
Cape Town not being achieved, the new estimated time of
arrival is now Thursday 3rd July when passengers will disembark.
The RMS will go into dry dock the next day.”
This means that the RMS will be six days behind schedule
when it reaches Cape.

The RMS is sailing towards the African coast, which it will
follow south to Cape Town. This is a longer route than travelling
direct towards Cape Town but the risk of hitting bad
weather is smaller.

The ship is travelling with the damaged stabiliser in a 27 degree
angel, which needs to be compensated with the rudder
being set 10 degrees to the port. The increased resistance
from these measures will slow the ship down.
The original official theory that the RMS had hit an object
outside Ascension last Wednesday has been dismissed as
un-realistic, even though no official retraction has been made.
The most likely cause of the damage to the starboard stabiliser
was metal fatigue of the cast iron casing, which had
cracked. On inspection of the stabiliser, there was no evidence
of outside impact. Over last weekend, local contractors
poured about 2.5 tonnes of concrete over the damaged
casing. Cargo slings were also attached to give the stabiliser
further support. The issue of metal fatigue issue also put in
question the soundness of the port stabiliser which has been
put under the same stress conditions as its counterpart on
the starboard side.

In dry-dock, the damaged equipment will be taken out of the
ship by cutting out a section of the hull, which will be replaced
with a steel plate and the RMS will have to sail without stabiliser,
at least until it reaches UK. The RMS is anticipated to be
back on scheule when it leaves Portland on 8th October.
And:

Quote:
Short on Airport
Observers in London suggest that the final decision on an
airport in St Helena will not be relayed until October this year.
It is likely that a decision by the Minister will be accompanied
by a Parliamentary statement and as the Parliament in UK is
in summer recess between 22nd July and 6th October, it is
unlikely that a decision will be made public during this time.
Governor Gurr has previously said that the two tenders for
the design, build and operate of the airport, received from
Impregilo and Basil Read, are only valid until the end of July.
A decision on who is the preferred tender has to be decided
before the end of next month. However, a decision who is the
preferred tender does not necessarily mean that a contract
will be signed and an airport will be built.
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Old July 1st, 2008, 04:26 PM   #20
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Does anyone have any info on tourism in St Helena as it stands? In terms of what people visit for (despite novlety/remoteness) and what the future attractions would be?

It doesn't seem like there are any beaches. How about scuba diving - is it near to any reefs or wrecks of interest, or too Oceanic? Or bird-watching? Do they have any indigenous mammals?

What is the weather like?
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