Deputy Brouard expresses concern to PSD Minister Flouquet about airport pavement rehabilitation

January 2nd, 2009 by Al Brouard

In a letter to PSD Minister Bernard Flouquet, Deputy Al Brouard expresses his concern about the PSD proposals to refurbish the runway.

Thank you for your letter to all States Members of the 19th of December inviting suggestions as to how we may proceed following the successful Sursis placed by Deputy Jan Kuttelwascher and myself.

I am not sure that this medium of “we write in with our ideas” and you will “examine each and every suggestion and as far as possible include a comment on it in its final report” that’s not what I want.

I would like you to come back with different proposals and options with weighted consideration. I did not get the feeling in the debate that PSD had acknowledged it needs to return with a new solutions, but you say in your letter you are listening so here goes:

Executive Summary

Please, I ask you, drive from the Airport to Checkers turn round at the supermarket and then drive back to the Airport. Just take the trouble to do this and have a look, that is all I ask.

The western end of the runway has a superb gently sloping head of a natural valley and when you look north from Lesbirel’s vegetable stall it’s a real picture. The idea of leveling it out and raising it up with 300,000 tons of hardcore is just unacceptable.

What I would like to see please is the correspondence from the CAA in which increased safety standard are discussed.

Perhaps I would suggest when all the ideas are in, you would consider inviting interested Members together so we can address our points in a discussion with yourselves at PSD, as this might help all parties.

In no particular order, and in note form.

Use of rule 12-4 was inappropriate and a mistake. The report was not written as general consultation green paper.

What is the bottom line minimum to keep the airport operating as of now. I did not see it in your report and I have not seen it since. I can express this so many ways – but what if we had say only £10 million, to be able to be spent on the airport, what would you spend it on and when would the airport have to close because of restrictions, or could it stay open but with different aircraft or would it just mean smaller aircraft, would £10 million give 5 years more life ? I am trying to find the minimum and the what ifs. I hope it’s clear what I am trying to tease out.

Can we over lay with tarmac to say 100 mm and that’s it, will no one fly here any more if we did this? Will the CAA advise that our runway with a new 4 inch top coat is worse than we have now ? Will they advise airline not to fly here.

All through this I am being asked to make a decision and I need reliable factual information to base it on.

One option 1463 metre and 202 metre Runway Extension Safety Areas’s (RESA’s), why not 1460 metres and 200 metre RESA at £20,000 a metre, if it was my money I certainly would want to make sure I built what I needed but not more.

How far can we drop the 1463 metres before it affects the types of aircraft which can use the airport ? and if so how and what ?

Planning no option but for a Planning Enquiry. In the report this issue was reduced to a small paragraph, but planning is absolutely critical. We both argued against the amendment laid by Deputies Bell and Le Pelley to avoid “ unnecessary administrative hurdles” in the future regarding work at the airport. This was at the States RAP meeting you ( Environment Minister) then fought alongside me to ensure that any major work at the airport would be subject to a planning enquiry. We were successful and the amendment was lost.

It was lost on many grounds

  • 1. The public did not go to the planning enquiry to discuss Runway Extension Safety Area’s (RESA’s)
  • 2. Page 2216 8.1.6. legal advice was plan must reflect current position
  • 3. Good and proper to go through “ unnecessary administrative hurdles”
  • 4. No call from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) for a change
  • 5. What could possibly be built at the ends of the runway when the land has an AHLQ designation [area high landscape quality]

You also said and I will quote from your States Report I think correctly “If the new planning law were to come into force* before such proposals** were to be considered then an amendment to the Plan would be required necessitating a Public Enquiry ” report signed Deputy Flouquet

* I believe the States has given an undertaking to work to the new planning law in advance of its legal requirement.

** I believe this being longer runway and RESA’s

Even if you now argue differently you still need a Planning Enquiry on two other points

How can 300 000 tons of infill not be a planning consideration – morally, and finally you have no choice

RD1 and I quote “This Plan (RAP) does not make provision for proposals that are clearly demonstrated to be essential to the well-being of the island community but are of such a scale or nature as to be in conflict with the primary or general objectives of the plan. Such proposals would require the formal amendment of the Plan” The formal amendment means a planning enquiry. Its not just my reading of it, it what Environment told me.

Runway End Safety Area’s (RESA’s)

what is the risk assessment for Guernsey I do not believe its 202, there are so many options and area your report needs to address.

  • 1. Is our airport unsafe today
  • 2. It is in my opinion more risky to have bigger planes who fly at the margins of safety, but do they ? do they not work out the risk and make a decision to fly or not ? because it easy to hide under Health and Safely so why have a debate and lets have the recommendation length at 240.
  • 3. If we have 240 RESA’s why not reduce the runway to accommodate that ? what planes would not be able to land which can now ? what difference would that make ? what are the implications ? how much would we save ?
  • 4. Quality of RESA’s any differences ?
  • 5. Would it not be better for a sloping RESA’s at the west end I would rather a plane plough to a stop into the natural valley, than be helped along a flat path to Checkers car park ?
  • 6. Would not declaring the land to the west as part of the Airport be better than the position now ? If so how much better ? It could be carefully landscaped so you would not even notice that it was part of the Airport.
  • 7. What is the cost of getting a RESA wrong and redoing it all in 5 years time ? because the guidelines have changed ?
  • 8. Is the whole of the world, especially in the West all moving from the minimum RESA ? If it is still going to be the minimum in 5 years time then convince me why we are changing ?
  • 9. Who going forward will dictate to us what we must do in respect of the RESA’s and under who’s advice ? and if we do not comply for what ever reason what will happen ? Will all aircraft stop flying here ? If the week after next the Director of Aviation says its 240 RESA or nothing, do we have to comply ? or close ?

Shadow Director I was disappointed in your reply to me of the 9th of December where you state, “He [ The Director of Civil Aviation ( Designate)] has added that any discussion in respect of the RESA extension to 202m is really non-negotiable”

So I take it an improvement to 150m say from the 90 now is unacceptable or 200m is unacceptable. Perhaps its too early for us to pass the responsibility away from the Royal Court. I am sure if you asked a Director of Civil Aviation at random and asked, what they would like, it would run something like this;

  • 1. New top of the range runway with all works completed
  • 2. New top of the range terminal all finished and snagging done
  • 3. Big RESA’s
  • 4. New aviation law

We tick them all in the proposals, but where I believe we should get value is having a person who understands the risks and manages them, The cost elsewhere may be too high, to pay his price. I go back to the issue are we unsafe now ? probably not. Will he be all powerful see point 9 above.

Environmental Damage how bad will it be ? What is the environmental cost, residents concerns. Some houses will be living almost on the runway and the whole of St Peters in effect moved to wards the Airport. Flying not only closer but lower.

Costs and can we afford it, The Airport does not make money now, so how will you fund it over 20 years an additional £10 per journey tax ? Here we go again, we tell the industry how much we want to spend and then ask them to give us a competitive price, its not a good way to proceed in my view.

How long will it last spend £85 million and renew in what? 10 years ? I am fairly certain the new modern efficient Terminal costs more to run, maintain etc. than the old inefficient one we knocked down. I can not see it being different for any new kit.

Future of planes, will we be using jets or props in 10 years will they need longer runways or shorter?

Consultants Drift, We need to find a way to engage with consultants where their remuneration is not linked with the amount of work they propose. It almost needs a consultant to be paid more the least he recommends!

Longer runway, This is a topic in its own right, How many extra passengers will we get ? Who will pay the cost ? will we have more flights,? will airline cherry pick or will we have more all year round services? The list goes on I can see no evidence to support such a move.

It seems ironic that in order to improve safely we will now have planes, under the proposals, flying closer and lower to homes and the St Pierre du Bois community. I can go on but I hope you have a glimmer of the issues I would like to see comprehensively addressed in a report to spend £85 million.

What I would like to see please, is the correspondence form the CAA in which increased safety standard are discussed.

I can not do this topic justice in a letter please take on the points raised and consider those where I have not fleshed out all the detail. I very much hope you will arrange for other opportunities for Members to meet with PSD and the other issues can be thoroughly discussed.

I do appreciate you have to start somewhere after the Sursis and I thank you for this opportunity, please take up my offer in the executive summary and I would really be grateful to see the correspondence from the CAA so I can be under no illusion as to their position.

Yours sincerely

A H Brouard

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