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St. Helena: Airports

Volume 491: debated on Wednesday 22 April 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment was made of the economic case for an airport on the island of St Helena before tenders for the construction of an airport were sought. (267933)

Preliminary work was carried out by High Point Rendel in the 2001 Comparative Study of Air and Sea Access for St. Helena. This fell short of a full economic analysis.

The 2005 Feasibility Study by Atkins included outline economic appraisal of a wide range of access options, and detailed financial and economic analysis of three shortlisted options, including the proposed airport. This work was reviewed by a leading independent economist.

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how much the preferred tenderer has spent on pre-contractual work for the construction of an airport on the island of St Helena; and what steps he plans to take to compensate the preferred tenderer in the event that the project is not proceeded with. (267936)

We have no means of knowing how much the preferred tenderer has spent on pre-contractual work. Any such work is carried out at the tenderer's own risk.

Under the terms of the tender, tenderers who have submitted bids which are not taken forward to contract are entitled to reclaim up to £100,000 in costs.

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what meetings (a) Ministers and (b) officials in his Department have held in respect of the proposed airport on the island of Saint Helena in the last six months; and if he will make a statement. (268215)

I, with departmental officials, have had meetings with the Governor of St. Helena, representatives of the St. Helena Leisure Corporation (SHELCO) and Impregilo, the preferred bidder, in respect of the proposed airport.

Discussions have also been held at official level between DFID and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Treasury.

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what research his Department has (a) commissioned and (b) evaluated on the proposed airport on the island of Saint Helena; and if he will make a statement. (268230)

Predecessors of the Department for International Development commissioned studies by the Civil Aviation Authority in 1973 and 1987, both of which concluded that while a runway was feasible technically the costs would be considerable. DFID commissioned High Point Rendel as part of the Comparative Study of Air and Sea Access in 2001. This assessed costs of both forms of access indicating air access a better long-term option.

More recently, DFID commissioned Atkins to undertake the full feasibility study. This was completed in January 2005 and evaluated a wide range of options, including the proposed airport. It was on the basis of its conclusions that the Government went to tender in 2007. A full environmental impact assessment was carried out in 2005-06, following earlier studies into the St. Helena wirebird, invertebrates and lichens on the proposed airport site.