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The opinions expressed herein are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views or editorial position of I-Witness News

St. Vincent and the Grenadines is located in the Eastern Caribbean at 13º North and 61ºWest or about 100 miles west of Barbados. The Argyle International Airport is located on the eastern coastline of St. Vincent, with a geographical alignment of 20º -43′ – 54″/200° – 43′ – 54′. Taking the magnetic variation into consideration, the runway designation is 02 and 20.

If you take a line for approach from the south, running at 200 degrees magnetic from Argyle, that sets the approach over the lower Grenadines. If you have the appropriate sea charts available, you will be able to determine yourself that approaching aircraft will then fly low over Bequia and Mustique. The whole of the Grenadines will experience aircraft noise at one level or another.

The proposed runway will be designated a non-precision approach runway, served by visual and non visual aids, providing directional guidance adequate for a straight-in approach using visual approach procedures under visual meteorological conditions.

The design reference aircraft is the Boeing 747-400 aircraft for which the reference code of the airport was determined to be 4E and for which the standards and specifications are in accordance with ICAO annex 14.

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When foreigners purchased land in Bequia, were they made aware that the Argyle international airport runways would facilitate a low flying approach over their newly purchased plot?

Are those Mustique millionaires who own their vast luxury properties going to stay? When they lay by their pools and can almost touch the landing gear on a 747, can’t hear themselves think, are they going to stay? Will this bring about a possible exodus of our Mustique owners? Is that going to affect employment in SVG?

Mustique banned jets and helicopters from flying into Mustique airport, for the very reason of limiting noise pollution by aircraft.

Of course, no one has considered the proposed night flights, noise in morning, noise in the evening noise at supper time; plenty, plenty noise, will happen all the time (Wow! That would make a great song).

The Mustique house owners own the Mustique Company, and, after the SVG Government, they are the state’s largest employers.

I believe the Government has known from day one that the landing approach would cause substantial problems for Bequia and Mustique.

The alternative was building an airport at Kitchen that would have made the approach run over or close to Young Island, whom one of the principles just happens to be Sir Frederick Ballantyne, Governor General. I believe Kitchen never happened just because of those involved.

The orientation of the runway at Argyle is almost unheard of in the region. Only the Dominica runway is as markedly N/S in orientation – and that is on the leeward side of the island, which is somewhat less of a problem than at Argyle, which is on the windward side of St. Vincent. The old Pearls strip on Grenada was orientated E/W requiring a difficult final approach as a consequence.

Let there be no doubt the Argyle airport will have a wind problem, certainly more so, for small aircraft. In fact, unless a cross runway is installed promptly, it could prove to be the end of small airlines like SVG Air, Mustique Airways and others, who would only be able to fly on days that the wind allows them. It’s more than probable that even LIAT would have problems.

It is said that large modern aircraft have less problem with diverse wind issues. The issue of a crosswind landing is utterly dismissed in reports by the Government of SVG. It is hard to imagine that this has not been fully investigated. I am sure it has been full investigated but a choice has been made to ignore the dangers and inconveniences.

The approach track will be over Mustique and Bequia on the eastern side, but this may be a little further to the east than is first apparent to take into account the prevailing crosswind. This will have very serious impact on those islands regarding both high and low level noise. In countries such as the UK and the US they simply triple glaze house windows and install soundproofing in the lofts, in fact their governments pay for that. In these Caribbean islands, that would be totally impracticable. People live on their veranda’s and balconies, often leaving all doors and windows open.

Did our government ever hold talks with Bequians or the Mustique Company about the blighting of their property?

London’s Heathrow Airport has being paying compensation to homeowners — both on the flight paths and off the flight paths — that are affected by noise pollution. I am sure there are a number of wealthy homeowners who may just well take the Vincentian government to the cleaners regarding noise pollution and the affect on their property values, caused by the installation of Argyle airport.

Knowing that if land buyers in Bequia and the homeowners in Mustique grouped together to take a class action against the SVG government they would be a formidable foe, my advice to Dr. Gonsalves would be to borrow another billion US dollars, put it in an escrow account for that rainy [windy] day, that is bound to come.

The Mustique Company has a lease, by which their homeowners are promised, and expect, quiet and undisturbed enjoyment of the island of Mustique.


Peter Binose

The opinions presented in this content belong to the author and may not necessarily reflect the perspectives or editorial stance of iWitness News. Opinion pieces can be submitted to [email protected].

8 replies on “Were buyers of Bequia land warned about low-flying aircraft?”

  1. Rudy Little says:

    Let me put my two cents in. I fully understand your point with noise pollution but that will not be a factor on the approach path to land at Argyle. Bequia is nine miles away from the southernmost point of the mainland. Mustique is even further away. I’ll bet on the approach plates for straight-in final to Argyle the heavy iron will be above 2,000 feet over Baliceaux and to the East of Bequia. They can also use noise abatement approach to final. I’ll also say this. Let the big wigs deal with it. They are the ones who should finance Argyle. If they want peace and quiet they should close Mustique runway and use boats instead. I am sure that you are aware the noise from Amerijet every Tuesday and sometimes Thursdays during the short field take-offs for all the residents of Arnos Vale, Cane Hall, Fountain, Belair, We welcome it and deal with it.
    On another issue that is quite troubling. How the hell they want to close E T Joshua in Arnos Vale to build a new City. What are they thinking? Everyone is talking about the crosswind at Argyle and to land a Cessna 172 when the crosswind component is exceeded. You will have no alternate airport to land then you are screwed because E T Joshua is closed. Why not leave Arnos Vale open to accommodate light aircrafts. Isn’t it what they did at Castries St Lucia. Let’s say that something catastrophic happens on the runway at Argyle and a light aircraft is on final with bad weather I guess that pilot would need some pampers.
    I rest my case!!

  2. RUDY LITTLE, I don’t want to appear a little rude Rudy, but I sense some resentment in your writing regarding Mustique and the house owners.

    The Mustique company pump millions of dollars into SVG’s economy every year. After the government they are the states largest employer. They pay there workers about twice that of the government workers. They train their employees to a very high standard, and after working for Mustique any one of them can go almost anywhere and get a job.

    Each time there is a catastrophe of any kind in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, their charitable arm are the first to help and assist. After hurricanes most of the houses repaired or rebuilt in SVG, were paid for by the Mustique Trust. I actually believe they do more than the government. They have pumped millions into SVG, without them at this moment in time we would be struggling for our lives, not that some of us are not anyway.

    One of the things I notice about Vincentians is they can be very jealous of those that fare better than them, perhaps you are jealous or something like that Rudy.

    I have a cousin who lives 18 miles from an airport in the UK, aircraft turn above him to make the final approach run, frequently he is disturbed by the engine noise of those aircraft.

    Five weeks ago I did two exploratory trips from Bequia and Mustique to Argyle, once in a light aircraft and once in a boat.

    I will pull the sea charts tomorrow when I get home and tell us all about distances.

    Your quite right about Balliceaux and Battowia they will be seriously affected, the sheep and land turtles will be complaining. Any plans that the owners have of selling those islands will also be blighted
    [or in sheep language “bleated”].

    I notice that Baliceaux is currently advertised for sale at US$30 million.

  3. When you buy a property and there is a lot of aircraft noise, you knew about that noise when you purchased. You can have no claim [such as at E.T.Joshua].

    If you buy quiet and tranquil land from the government and the same government introduce aircraft noise that blights your property, you have better than good grounds for a claim.

    When you lease an island from a government and the same government introduce aircraft noise that blights your property, you have better than good grounds for a claim.

    In both cases the aircraft noise will cause a substantial financial loss to property owners.

    1. I’ll be short and to the point. I detect bias on your post, You talk about noise,noise,noise. You are making noise about nothing. I have lived in New York City for twelve years just three nautical miles away from the threshold of Runway 31 in the final approach path to JFK. Every day when we use Runway 31 or Runway 22. The planes are directly overhead on final so close you can “READ” the caution signs under the wings. They come in one every two minutes for separation. I have pictures of this. We hear the noise and ignore it.People ignore the “White Noise” Sometimes they don’t come over Jamaica Bay of course because of wind direction.
      By the way I can Guarantee that the traffic into the “ARGYLE INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT” would be no more than one or two a day for the long haul “HEAVY”.
      I don’t want to be neither “RUDE nor COCKY”… Pilot since 1981 at Westair Aviation “HPN” Westchester County Airport. New York. FBO in Florida since 1987.
      Can you go to Mustique without an escort or invitation? Are you a Vincentian?

  4. You guys are too short-sighted. I done. Have you looked at the long term environmental and economic impact at the Argyle International Airport. Think long and hard about it. I know I won’t be arround to witness. Be Bold, Explore. Never stand in the way of progress.

  5. Now you are getting personal.I guess your ignorance is limitless. You don’t know me and you’re calling me stupid. You are clearly giving me a reason to call you a jackass asshole. Everyone has an OPINION. You are so darn selfish. Look at the big picture you stupid idiot. You do not qualify to stand up and talk to me about anything. It is clear that some one paid has paid your tuition. Can you be Neutral.
    I’ll bet you are driving a vehicle that you cannot afford. How much do you owe? Think about that, You IDIOT

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