Guernsey Press

Amendment for longer runway to go before the States next week

REBEL Economic Development member Simon Vermeulen will ask the States to vote next week to extend the airport runway by about 160 metres.

Deputy Simon Vermeulen, left, and Deputy John Dyke are the two States members behind an amendment seeking to extend the runway by about 160 metres, something which Economic Development has come out against. (Picture by Sophie Rabey, 32482999)

His committee wants deputies to rule out an extension for the time being.

But Deputy Vermeulen’s amendment, published yesterday, calls for the Assembly to commit an estimated £22m. to lengthen the runway to 1,623 metres through the use of the Engineered Materials Arresting System known as EMAS.

He wants the work started before the end of the States term in June 2025.

‘I think it will be a very strong case that I will be presenting,’ he said yesterday.

‘It will be a much better way to progress these works at the airport than the one suggested by Economic Development. It’s a different approach and it’s different costs.

‘I’m hopeful of support in the Assembly, but we will only know on the day.’

Deputy Vermeulen said he was proposing his amendment to stick to his election promise of supporting business and growth.

‘For a relatively small outlay, an extension can be a real benefit to the island, particularly at a time when it needs growth in the economy,’ he said.

EMAS would involve installing crushable material at the end of the runway to help stop an aircraft if it overruns. It is said to be analogous to a motor racing circuit’s gravel traps.

Deputy Vermeulen claimed that EMAS would be a game changer for Guernsey.

‘This new technology is a gift for us. We’d be on par with Jersey and would enjoy economic growth, alongside lower fares, including access to new destinations and other carriers,’ he said.

If approved, Deputy Vermeulen’s amendment will require an initial phase of EMAS to be installed at the eastern end of the runway and within the existing airport boundary.

It will also require the States’ Trading Supervisory Board, which is responsible for the airport, to look into whether the existing instrument landing system gantry could be reused rather than replaced.

And it will direct Economic Development to return to the States by the end of this year with proposals for additional service charges to repay the costs of the EMAS development, which would initially be funded from the States capital reserves.

Economic Development’s proposals not to proceed with a runway extension are attached to a policy letter which includes a cost-benefit analysis and extensive supporting reports.

While backing the reports, Deputy Vermeulen said he believed the recommendation by his committee colleagues was flawed.

Deputy Vermeulen’s amendment is seconded by Deputy John Dyke.

The policy letter and amendment are on the agenda for the States meeting which starts on Wednesday.