Ogle airport expansion
Residents air concerns at public hearing

Stabroek News
November 5, 2002

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Residents living near the Ogle airport on Thursday gave their views on the proposed expansion plan at a public hearing on the findings of the Environ-mental Impact Assessment (EIA).

The hearing, held at the Ogle Community Centre and hosted by the Environmental Protection Agency, apart from giving interested persons the chance to air their concerns about the predicted negative effects of the airport expansion, also allowed them to get a clearer sense of the mitigation measures spoken of in the EIA summary.

Also present at the meeting were officials from the Civil Aviation Department, Ogle Airport Management and various civil engineering firms.

One resident, who said he was a farmer and had grown up in Ogle, stressed that it would be hard to adjust to a new location. Another said that he has yet to receive any word as to when he, and others, would have to move.

He said he is being told different things by different people and he would like a definite time when he will have to go. He said he lives every day with the fear that someone would come and suddenly demand his removal. The answer he received was that he should approach the Central Housing and Planning Authority with these questions.

Eliza Florendo, Senior Environmental Officer for Authorisation and Development at the Environmental Protection Agency, outlined the measures spoken about in the assessment summary. She indicated that some of the residents, 23 households in all, would have to be relocated because their homes are in the direct flight path of the airport. This, she said, would be done taking into consideration the many factors associated with the disruption to a family’s way of life. She further stated that the EPA has considered the fact that some residents attend schools and churches in the area, and that some may have relatives in the environs.

The EPA, she said, would continue to have consultations with those persons, some of whom have been living in the area for as long as 30 years. Concerning these matters, the summary of the impact assessment reports that: “OAI will continue to collaborate with the CH&PA so that residents can be involved in the discussion with the regulatory CH&PA, in respect of options for resettlement and/or compensation. Already, CH&PA has begun to identify alternative lands for the affected families, including those who began residing at their current locations within the past two to five years.”

One resident had concerns about the potential loss of his property’s value because of the increased noise in the area. These concerns, however, are not addressed in the summary.

Throughout the impact assessment report, aircraft noise is one of the major factors mentioned. The EIA summary has outlined a number of noise abatement measures, some of which were discussed at the forum.

These included the runway design, which will allow for aircraft to reach maximum height soon after take-off. Another measure is the cessation of all flight operations after 9:00p.m. In the long term, older and noisier aircraft will be phased out.

The summary also suggests that residents in the area plant fruit trees, which would not only beautify the surroundings, but also act as a buffer against aircraft noise.

An observation was made that although the study showed what the predicted noise levels are, there was no measurement of present noise levels for comparison.

Waste management, it was said, will be the responsibility of an EPA approved waste management company which will handle all categories of waste, from conventional to hazardous, including spent oils, lubricants and sludge.

Some of the benefits of the expansion project include employment for skilled and unskilled workers over the 18 month period during which construction will take place. Employment in the categories of operations, accounting, catering, concessionaires of the Ogle Airport Inc, and transportation services will be-come available over a five- year period after completion of the expansion project. These jobs, it is hoped, will number just under 300.

The proposed expansions will include upgrading of the runway and installation of runway lights thereafter. This would allow for safer conditions during emergency night-time operations, such as medivac services or emergency landings.

Construction of a perimeter fence will improve security at the airport and lessen the likelihood of persons or animals finding their way onto the runway or taxi area. The airport’s capacity to respond to fire and rescue situations will be enhanced with the construction of a modern fire station.

The Ogle Airport Inc. (OAI) has developed an Environmental Management Plan, which is designed to “ensure that the project development proceeds and is managed in a manner committed to the safety and well-being of all the persons employed at, living in the surrounding communities and utilising the services of the Ogle Airport.”

OAI has budgeted US$659,945 for the first five years for the monitoring of the environment and repairs and maintenance to runways and taxiways.