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Monday 20 August 2018
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Tobago

Charles: Friendship site not an option for new airport terminal

The Friendship Estate in Bon Accord is not an option for the new terminal building for the ANR Robinson International airport because of environmental concerns as well as additional costs for an extension to the runway or building of a new runaway, and maintenance.

So said Chief Secretary Kelvin Charles, responding to calls that Government consider this area for the project instead of the announced Bon Accord/Canaan site currently occupied by an identified 120 property owners.

Speaking at Wednesday’s post Executive Council media briefing at the Administrative Complex in Calder Hall, Charles said any extension would see it running through wetlands “and that in itself poses a series of challenges including clearance from Environment Management Agency (EMA).

“If that was to happen the cost of construction would be prohibitive. We would have to drive piles and engage in mitigating measures to protect the area. We need to bear in mind there are certain species of birds that pose significant threat to aircraft engines and safety.”

He also cited “tremendous deforestation if the Friendship Estate was used, reiterating that this approach was not advisable.

He also noted:

“Not all the lands at Friendship are state-owned, there is private ownership as well and therefore to continue with a viable significant acquisition of private acreages, this would have to be executed by the state to provide adequate space for a new terminal building and runway.”

Also promising information on the project would be provided to the public, Charles said there would be one-on-one consultations between the Tobago House of Assembly (THA), residents and landowners on voluntary acquisition and an acceptable compensation package, depending on their situations and ownership.

“You cannot treat unequally equally if you want to be fair, so if you treat unequally equally all you do is perpetuating the inequality,” he said cryptically.

“It is only at a particular stage where we would be legally able to enter the land and perform roles such as surveying and valuing the property and it’s under the basis of those can we establish clear boundaries and what the market rate is.

“Our people will be compensating at market rate… treating with the needs of the person equitably,” he added.

Charles said residents would be taken through a legal process, then lands will be surveyed and evaluated before discussions about compensation packages would begin.

Residents have been construction of the project is to begin in December and that 84 acres of land is to be acquired, but Charles said on Wednesday that all the land would not be acquired before December since the first stage of the project would be done in an organised manner. He said plans to relocate and construct a new airport terminal were not made overnight.

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