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Why choose Argyle?

Why choose Argyle?

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Instead of spending $1 billion to construct an international airport for St.Vincent and the Grenadines at Kitchen, Government has chosen Argyle, which could save this country up to EC$500 million. This is one reason among many why Argyle was chosen. So said Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves on Monday at the Methodist Church Hall.{{more}}

He said that having determined that the expansion of the E.T Joshua Airport as a jet airport is unfeasible and unjustifiable, and upon the advice of the International Airport Oversight Committee, the state-owned International Airport Development Company, and international consultants from Canada, Cuba, Mexico, and Europe, the government of St.Vincent and the Grenadines after much consideration was left with the choice of having to choose either the site at Kitchen or that at Argyle.

He added that the Government in the final analysis chose Argyle for three main reasons.

“First, while both Kitchen and Argyle are suitable locations from technical and aeronautical standpoints for the siting of an international airport, Kitchen is substantially more expensive than Argyle,” said Dr .Gonsalves.

He further stated that partly for this reason, the Kitchen site was not considered as an economically feasible option in the most recent study on the issue by the Marshall Macklin Monaghan (MMM) consultants. Dr.Gonsalves said while a January 2005 study estimated an international airport at Argyle to cost EC$480 million, in-house estimates put Kitchen at a price of EC$999 million.

Dr. Gonsalves noted in his presentation that secondly, there is the issue of land use.

“As we plan a large capital project like the construction of an international airport, we have to balance a range of competing demands for the limited available land. Specifically, we have to balance the need for large areas for the airport against the need for other land for the kind of business which we expect to spin off from the international airport,” said the Prime Minister, who added that he was making reference about land for the construction of hotels, guest houses, restaurants and other recreational facilities that would enhance the tourism project.

“It is to be emphasized that the area called Kitchen is within very close proximity to the best known tourism areas on the mainland. If we were to locate the international airport at Kitchen, we would be placing the airport within very close range of several hotels, to their detriment…further, we would be using up large amounts of land in a thriving tourist area which would thus limit the very tourism development which is a main reason for the building of the international airport in the first place,” Dr. Gonsalves explained.

The third reason he gave for ruling out Kitchen from the choice list had to do with the environment. Dr. Gonsalves disclosed that there were environmental issues associated with the Kitchen Site.

“While many persons may be familiar with the recreational aspects of the bays in the Kitchen area, they may not know that these same bays are of vast ecological significance. The Milikan Bay, for example, is the only site in St.Vincent with natural mangrove swamps and is an important wildlife habitat. The sandy beaches of Milikan Bay and Cable Hut Bay are also sea turtle nesting sites. As a responsible government, we intend to protect, not destroy, these important ecological sites, especially when we have another option,” the Prime Minister outlined.

The International Airport at Argyle is expected to be completed by 2011, latest.

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