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Runway returns to haunt States

Guernsey Press Comment | Published:

IT’S the debate that won’t die.

Those who thought that the runway extension was an ex-issue, at least for the last few months of this Assembly, now know that it was merely resting.

Two weeks after the president of the States’ Trading Supervisory Board told deputies that nothing more could be done in the lifetime of this States to extend the runway, he is back with two members of his committee and four others attempting to breathe life into the subject.

A two-page requete offers little by way of explanation.

What it does address in its three-paragraph prayer is the cost of producing a business case and benefit analysis for a 1,700-metre runway.

Returning to the States so quickly for another runway debate is not as daft as it seems.

Back in April the States tied itself in knots over what to do. First it took control of an investigation into the value of a longer runway away from Policy & Resources, whose members made no effort to hide their contempt for it as a waste of time, effort and money.

Having given the task to Economic Development and shown some appetite for going ahead, the Assembly then pirouetted on a sixpence and refused to give them the estimated £700,000 to fund the research.

With no budget, Economic Development understandably dropped the project and declared it foolish to press ahead.

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The latest requete, led once again by that indefatigable advocate of a longer runway, Jan Kuttelwascher, cuts down that bill to a maximum of £360,000.

There is no fresh evidence to support that figure. Yet given how evenly the States is divided on this subject – funding in the April debate was withheld by a single vote – it may still be enough.

Deputies recognised at the time that it was a dog’s breakfast of a decision to agree an investigation but withhold funding. One called it a fiasco.

The requete does one other thing: it sets a deadline of May 2020 – just before the election.

Combined, this may be enough to move the one or two votes needed to overturn the decision and fund Economic Development’s review.

After all, it is the next States that will have to deal with the fallout of any decision to extend.

Shaun Green

By Shaun Green
Editor

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