By Lord Ashcroft
First published on ConservativeHome.com on 21st February 2017.
Whatever the future holds for the island of St Helena – and I hope it is a long and happy one – there is no doubt that mistakes have been made relating to its new, but massively underused, airport (pictured in the background, right).
The errors are costly ones, too: if the problems of strong and unpredictable winds really cannot be overcome, then at least £285 million of taxpayers’ money will have been squandered. Even if these “wind shear” difficulties can be successfully managed, many islanders will have suffered great financial hardship as a result of gearing up to an influx of tourists who, as yet, have never arrived.
But could, and should, the issues caused by St Helena’s unique topography have been foreseen? In the aftermath of my revelations last June about why planes were not able to land at the airport, it emerged that Brian Heywood, a former British Airways pilot, had written to David Cameron as early as August 2010 to warn him that the planned airport was in danger of being untenable. (more…)