Press Release issued by the States of Alderney 17 November 2022:
Economics and survival must be foremost in Alderney Airport decision, says senior politician
An offer to contribute up to £3.5m to an extended runway and airport rejuvenation demonstrates Alderney’s commitment to the Bailiwick of Guernsey as an entity, the Island’s senior politician told the States of Alderney meeting yesterday (November 16).
The States approved the offer to contribute to Option C+ in principle subject to negotiation with Guernsey’s Policy & Resources Committee. There was one abstention – Kevin Gentle on legal advice as Chair of Building & Development Control – all other Members present voting in favour.
Ian Carter, Chairman of the Policy & Finance Committee (P&F), told the full States meeting that strong and positive relationships built with Guernsey through the pandemic had engendered “mutual support and symbiosis” and was a key factor in making this offer as the proposed development is seen as essential for the Island’s future as well as an economic enabler for the entire Bailiwick.
“The proposition puts front and centre a very real commitment to the concept of the Bailiwick of Guernsey as an entity in which joint working between legislatures, collaboration and economic development are being promoted in order for survival and progress of each island in the Bailiwick in a very turbulent international sea,” he said.
“There are incredibly positive relationships that have been built up between the two islands through the pandemic where the communities of each island have seen the value of their sister island and the need to ensure that both islands thrive.
“It is for this reason of mutual support and symbiosis, where working together each island is able to have an enhanced effect overall, that this proposition is being made. Alderney as one of the two Islands in Fiscal Union is seeking to make a real economic commitment to that union for a sustained period of time and will do so as a result of that investment.”
But he reminded Members that the airport decision was out of Alderney’s hands. The rehabilitation and extension of the Alderney runway and the associated airport infrastructure will be determined by 40 members of the States of Deliberation in Guernsey – 38 representing the voters of the Island of Guernsey and two representing the Alderney community.
Mr Carter added: “It is an incredibly complex jigsaw of competing interests and having attended many presentations by specialists, read thousands of words of reports and asked many questions of aviation experts, futurologists, aircraft innovators, runway specialists, private pilots, airline executives from a range of airlines of different sizes, pilots, groundcrew and the general public, there are two key underlying aspects which any decision made by those 40 Deputies will be based upon – economics and the survival and development of a thriving Island community as part of the Bailiwick.”
The £3.5m contribution would be raised from a combination of Alderney’s reserves and Bailiwick-based loan funding and would be the first time the States has borrowed money to achieve its goals. At the end of 2021, the general reserve was £1.59m built up through Alderney Gambling Control Commission surpluses and favourable local tax revenues, although the revenue budget for 2023 may have to draw up to £533,000 following decisions made on the Ambulance Service and Primary Care in 2022.
Representatives from the States of Guernsey have emphasised that any potential contribution from the States of Alderney must be demonstrably affordable. However, P&F sees this as a significant project affecting the future of the Island.
The Guernsey Bond is the preferred borrowing vehicle with interest rates between 3.625% to 4.25%.
“Following consideration of available resources and the longer-term costs, the preference for P&F is a blend of cash contribution and loan-funding,” concluded Mr Carter. “The balance will be determined dependent on the timing of the funding requirement, and the States’ reserves position at that time. The States will also work with the States of Guernsey to investigate approaches to project management which will reduce the overall costs of the project.” ENDS