Business community cautious over runway extension report
A report that extolled the economic benefits of a runway extension has elicited a cautious response from business groups.
A business case prepared by consultants Frontier Economics concluded that the extension could yield a net £21m. for local businesses over a 40-year period.
And earlier this week, Deputy Charles Parkinson told the States the project would break even if it attracted an additional 8,200 visitors a year, roughly the same number who travelled on the trialled London Southend route.
John Clacy, the chairman of the Guernsey Institute of Directors, said the report had to be considered in a post-Covid world and also could not be appraised in a vacuum.
‘For some time, the IoD has been clear in its support of infrastructure spend on projects that give a clear economic return to the island and we have been strong advocates of an independent cost benefit analysis of the runaway extension,’ he said.
‘However, we are mindful that the report was written in a pre-Covid-19 world and needs to be viewed with that in mind, and alongside other possible infrastructure projects.
‘We look forward to reviewing the report when it is available.’
The incoming president of the Guernsey Chamber of Commerce, Advocate Elaine Gray, gave credit to the Economic Development committee for commissioning the report and for keeping its costs well within budget.
Advocate Gray said that while the business case seemed to support the extension, the Chamber would have to seek feedback from its members given the ‘seismic shift’ in priorities caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
‘We are receiving feedback on an ongoing basis from around 200 businesses a week but, as things stand at present, the crucial and urgent issues revolve around the support needed across all sectors to continue in operation,’ Advocate Gray said.
‘This is, understandably, uppermost in most people’s minds at the moment.
‘For now, however, and as we have stated on many occasions before, we firmly believe that there are clear and obvious opportunities for infrastructure improvement around the harbour area which would be a potent economic enabler whilst also enhancing community life.’
Advocate Gray praised Guernsey’s outstanding community spirit and said it had been evident in its response to the outbreak. She believed there was an increasingly strong argument for further relaxing of restrictions on the island, both from a wellbeing and an economic perspective.