My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for International Development (Douglas Alexander) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.
I have carefully considered the views received in response to the public consultation on air access for St Helena. I have also considered the reasonableness of proceeding with funding an airport in the prevailing economic conditions and the urgent requirements upon the department to protect vulnerable countries around the world from the impact of the global downturn.
The present calls on DfID funding and the current economic conditions mean that proceeding with the project would not be appropriate at this time. DfID is committed to supporting the people of St Helena and so, rather than make a decision at this juncture, I have instructed my officials to conduct a further analysis of two particular issues that have been brought to my attention through the consultation, and require more detailed scrutiny:
potential cost savings to the airport contract which might be enabled by recent technological developments; and
options for funding the capital cost of the airport through a possible public/private partnership.
In addition, my officials will also analyse further the costs and options for a replacement ship.
I expect this to take around six months and will make a further Statement when it is complete.
The director responsible for the overseas territories will be visiting St Helena in the first quarter of 2010 to discuss this announcement with both government and the private sector.