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.
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.
GOOD NIGHT NURSE
The views expressed herein are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the opinions or editorial position of iWitness News. Opinion pieces can be submitted to [email protected].