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Meg Munn MP - Sheffield Heeley's voice in Parliament | Welcome
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Concern for St Helena

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Meg recently met Sir Andrew Gurr, Governor of St Helena, during his recent visit to the UK. He came to lobby the Government to continue to develop an airport for the island, telling Meg of his concern for the islands future if the airport project did not go ahead. Up to 2005, the island’s population suffered a steady decline, many people being unable to find work and moving to Ascension Island, the Falkland Islands or the UK. Over the last three years because of the optimism about air access the population has stabilised.

 

If the airport does not go ahead the already stretched pool of critical skilled workers from the public and private sector is likely to diminish. This includes nurses, teachers and skilled mechanics. Many children are being cared for by friends and relatives as their parents work away.

 

Sir Andrew emphasised that if there is no airport then getting to the island will continue to be by sea, necessitating a new purpose built ship and refurbished docks. So rather than save money, failure to build the airport is likely to cost the UK more in the long run.

 

The only way to get there currently is via the specially-designed RMS St Helena. This ship is coming toward the end of its working life, and broke down in November 1999 while on route to the island with essential supplies and passengers. The ship was forced to the French port of Brest for repairs. Islanders were left stranded with no way to get to or from the island while the ship was repaired, and panic ensued while islanders worried when vital supplies would arrive.

 

St Helena is a UK Overseas Territory situated in the South Atlantic. One of the most isolated islands in the world being approximately 1400 miles west of Walvis Bay in Namibia, 1800 miles east of Recife in Brazil and 700 miles south of Ascension Island.  

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