Ru nway Exten sion I m pact Assessmen t Te rrance B. L etts o m e In t e r n a t i o n a l A i rport
Pre p a re d F o r :
British Virgin Islands Airports Authority in association with:
Econcerns, Ltd Ricondo & Associates, Inc. St. Jean Engineering, LLC Fairbanks Engineering Corp. Dr. Birney M. Harrigan
Terrance B Lettsome International Airport – Runway Expansion Impact Assessment Report Contents 1. Executive Summary 2. Background 2.1 Project Selection 2.2 Project Location 2.3 Project Description & Associated Activities 2.4 Alternatives 3. Approach & Methodology 3.1 General Approach 3.2 Assumptions, Uncertainties & Constraints 4. Environmental Policy, Legislative & Planning Framework Intro. 4.1 Environmental Policy, Legislative & Planning Framework Intro. 4.2 Consultation & Public Participation 4.3 Institutional Capacity 4.4 Relevant Ongoing Projects 5. Existing Environmental Conditions 5.1 & 5.2 Physical & Biological Environment 5.3 Socio‐Cultural & Scocio‐Economic Conditions 6. Assessment Of Environmental Impacts & Mitigating Measures 6.1 Prediction Of Potential Environmental Impacts & Benefits 6.2 Mitigation Of Environmental Risks 6.3 Enhancements 6.4 Significance Of Environmental Impacts 6.5 Economic Evaluation Of Environmental Effects 7. Environmental Management Implementation
7.1 Environmental Monitoring 7.2 Environmental Management Capacity 7.3 Environmental Management Plan 8. Conclusions & Recommendations 8.1 Statement of Impact 8.2 Conclusions & Recommendations Appendices ¾ Ricondo & Associates (Aviation) ¾ St Jean Engineering & Fairbanks Engineering Corp (Coastal & Marine Engineering). ¾ Alan Zundel / Aquaveo (Coastal Modeling) ¾ Econcerns Limited (Environmental) ¾ Dr. Birney M Harrigan / Reality Global Inc. (Socio‐Economic) ¾ Island Resources (Terrestrial) ¾ Michael D. Kent PhD (Historical) ¾ Department of Disaster Management HVA Report ¾ Coastal Model Animations (on separate file) ¾ Exhibits (separate files, pdf generated images) ¾ Documents Referred To In Report BY KMI ¾ Consultant Information / CV’s
Terrance B Lettsome International Airport – Runway Expansion Impact Assessment Report 1. Executive Summary The present Government made the decision to extend the Terrence B. Lettsome International Airport (TBLIA) at Beef Island for several stated reasons, including but not limited to (1) reducing the Territories’ dependence on regional feeder gateways for airlift, which has proven to be an untenable situation, as has been shown on many occasions by American Eagle but, most recently, by its announcement to remove all American Eagle ATR‐72s from its fleet by March 2013; (2) testimony from visitors that if they had better access to the BVI, they would visit more often; (3) the inherent conundrum of having to depend on its competitors to sustain the BVI tourism industry and mainstay of its economy; (4) to stay competitive with the growing trend of having direct flights to one’s country; and (5) with the charter boat industry, the largest sector of the tourism industry, now reaching its carrying capacity limit, other opportunities in the leisure industry such as the development of the mega yacht business needed to be explored. In an industry where, increasingly, Caribbean countries have direct flights to their destinations, the BVI Government reasoned that in order to be competitive it had to invest in the Territory’s transportation infrastructure, that is, the airport, to create easier access to the Territory with direct flights from the U. S. mainland. Following the receipt of the Louis Berger Group’s report, “Strategic Plan and Master Services for the British Virgin Islands Airport System,” in June 2011, a Development Committee was appointed comprising the BVI Airports Authority’s (BVIAA) Operations Team and one BVIAA Board member to review and evaluate the Plan, especially with respect to Option 4, the preferred choice of LBG. The Committee identified serious flaws in Option 4, including the implementation of modern NAVIADS, risks associated with operating the runway system, the non‐instrument versus instrument runway, the runway re‐orientation and runway productivity. In light of those significant challenges, the Committee recommended an alternative option, Option 6, a non‐instrument runway extended to a total distance of 7,000
feet along the airport’s current orientation that would meet the operational requirements of such aircrafts as the Boeing 737, Airbus 320 and the Boeing 757. Consistent with the requirements of the Physical Planning Act and The Land Development Control Guidelines, an Impact Assessment (IA) was necessary. Following the receipt of three bids for the project, Kraus‐Manning Inc was awarded the contract by the BVIAAA to conduct an Impact Assessment of Option 4 and 6. It should be understood that whilst the Government have committed to expanding the airport runway at TBLIA, there is no “done deal” regarding the final layout, length or designs which will be developed following due consideration of this report and ongoing data analysis. This report and its appendixes cover in detail, the socio‐economic and environmental impacts of the proposed runway extensions for options 4 and 6 as presented by the BVIAA. There will be significant impacts for both options currently tabled and there are mitigating measures that deserve closer review and development that will in turn provide solutions to problems or potential issues raised. Trellis Bay and Conch Bay border the Airport property to the east. Well Bay borders to the west. Wildlife and ocean currents in these areas will be altered by a runway extension. Water quality in Trellis Bay will be affected by both options and to a significantly higher degree by option 6. Potential mitigating measures include the use of culverts, piled bridge systems, new circulation channels and the enlarging of the bay mouth by dredging and removing part of “Sprat Point”. Diverting current airport drainage away from its current outfall in Trellis Bay will significantly improve the situation as will controlling the quantity of boats currently mooring in the Bay. There are serious warranted concerns raised by the Trellis bay community regarding the Bays future and their own personal circumstances. Theses impacts are addressed in detail in this report which concludes that change can be adapted to and accommodated, additionally there are options and alternatives that are worth exploring in equal measure. There will be impacts to the beaches in the near vicinity to the runway, namely Long Bay beach will likely experience quite minor changes to its “sand budget”. A salt water pond on airport property, immediately north of the runway, is one of the few naturally remaining ponds in the BVI. Impacts to the pond will directly affect wildlife. Option 6 2
has relatively little impact upon the salt pond whereas option 4 completely eliminates the ecosystem. The proposed runway extension may result in larger, noisier aircraft overflying populated areas on the neighboring islands. There is a concern from residents that property prices might be affected by this form of “pollution”. This aspect is difficult to prove and further financial research and reporting is recommended in the socio‐economic appendix as a consequence. Neighboring islands (Tortola, Scrub Island and Great Camanoe) represent terrain obstructions that impact flight operations into and out of the Airport. These obstructions can be accommodated and “worked around” as demonstrated in the aviation consultant’s appendix. Blackburn Highway is the only road access between Beef Island and Tortola, and the main Airport access road. Any runway extension to the west will require a realignment of this road. This is not considered to be a major obstacle to overcome and options and alternatives are referenced in this report, the simplest being to reroute the road around the extension in to Well Bay. Whichever option or final design is approved for the runway expansion, it is essential that we learn from the experiences and examples in the past. Construction activities must be designed and managed to reduce negative impacts on the environment beyond the immediate project footprint. Erosion control must be employed to prevent sediment loss to the coastal environment. Turbidity curtains must be deployed and maintained to protect the marine environment and due consideration must be given to the surrounding community. An environmental monitoring team should be engaged to regularly review the project progress and associated risks therein. Once the final design is selected by Government, further impact analysis should be carried out to supplement this report.
2. Background 2.1 Project Selection Given the global economic challenges and current competitive trends in the aviation industry, the BVI Government made a decision to expand Terrance B Lettsome International Airport (TBLIA) runway along with other parts of the aerodrome to “ensure the sustainable development of the tourism industry, the largest contributor to the BVI economy”. Its primary goal is to make the BVI conveniently accessible to its source markets, especially the United States by having direct flights to the BVI from three of its major gateways: Miami, Atlanta and New York. Most of the BVI competitors in the tourism industry within the Caribbean now have direct flights to their destinations, thereby threatening the sustainability of feeder carriers and, by extension, the continued survival of those territories such as the BVI that depend on them. Ease of access to the BVI is designed to accomplish the following: •
Reduce the number of feeder connections from St. Thomas, Puerto Rico, St. Martin and Antigua
Reduce the length of time it takes to get to the BVI. (For visitors, in particular, they would spend less time getting to the BVI and more time enjoying the BVI experience.)
Respond to the changing needs of vacationers. They are taking shorter vacations, traveling shorter distances, spending less, and demanding more.
Increase the number of visits to the BVI by decreasing the length of time it takes to get to the BVI.
Currently there is no runway in the BVI long enough to make such flights profitable. Travelers instead must connect through San Juan, in Puerto Rico, or other such regional airports with longer runways. In 2006 the British Virgin Islands Airports Authority recognized the need for a Master Plan for the Territory’s Airport System. Tenders were invited to bid for a strategic plan of the three (3) airports in the Territory including a second phase to study and develop a Master Plan for the National Airport System. 4
Louis Berger Group Master Plan Louis Berger Group (LBG) was the successful tender and in 2007 a contract was signed with LBG. In summary their terms were as follows: Phase 1, to develop a Strategic Plan for the Airport System to guide the future development of airport infrastructure in the British Virgin Islands; and Phase 2A, following the vision of the Strategic Plan, prepare a Master Plan of the selected airport for a 20 ‐ 25 year development planning horizon while meeting the business objectives of the BVIAA. The primary airport considered for expansion was the T.B. Lettsome International Airport at Beef Island as the Virgin Gorda airport was severely limited by terrain obstacles in the vicinity of the airport. According to LBG, shifting the airport in Virgin Gorda would require construction over aquatic ecosystems such as living coral and this presented insurmountable environmental issues. LBG stated that the construction of an entirely new runway on Anegada was not considered significantly more costly than development on Beef Island; however the related infrastructure such as terminal building, parking ramp, taxiways etc., would substantially increase the cost of such a development in comparison to options for expansion of the T.B. Lettsome Airport. In addition, for the following reason, TBLIA remains the most viable and logical option. In June 2011 the Louis Berger Group concluded and delivered its Final Report to the BVI Airports Authority. LBG recommended an upgrade of the current facilities at TBLIA along with 5 runway extension options. The LBG recommended, Option 4, as the favorable option. Option 4 consists of a dual runway system consisting of the current runway 070/25 degrees and a new runway 6,069.5 ft in length oriented along a 048/228 degree heading, to accommodate regional jets and large aircraft, such as the Boeing 737‐700, flying directly to and from the Eastern seaboard of the US mainland. The main advantage of Option 4 is the ability to have a straight in approach to runway 048/228 degrees. The Strategic Plan was completed in 2011 and concluded that the existing site of TBLIA would be the best candidate to implement improvements necessary to accommodate non‐stop flights to North America. The Master Plan proposed to upgrade the Airport to be able to accommodate larger aircraft, such as the Boeing B737‐800, which is used by many airlines. This would require a significant runway extension, as well as widening to 150 feet. Additional 5
improvements for consideration are a full‐length parallel taxiway, as well as potential terminal and ramp expansions. Airport Development Committee Following the receipt of the Louis Berger Report, the Board of Directors appointed a Development Committee consisting of the BVIAA’s Operations Team and one board member, to review and evaluate the master plan submitted by the LBG. The Committee’s purpose was to evaluate Option 4 and offer recommendations where necessary. The Committee reviewed the plan submitted by LBG and found that it contained important information that needed further evaluation and clarification. These areas included; implementation of modern NAVIADS, risks associated with operating a dual runway system, non‐instrument verses instrument runway, runway re‐orientation and runway productivity. After the committee’s evaluation of LBG plan, the committee recommended an alternative option now referred to as Option 6. Option 6 is a non‐instrument runway extended to a total distance of 7,000ft along the current orientation. The Committee evaluated Option 6 as meeting the operational needs of the design aircraft along with the option to use aircraft up to code 4D; these include aircraft such as the Boeing 737, Airbus 320 and the Boeing 757. Impact Assessment It is a statutory requirement that part of this process includes the submission of an Impact Assessment. The Impact Assessment project was tendered and 3 bids were received from reputable organizations. In November of 2011 the BVIAA formally contracted Kraus‐Manning Inc, a local BVI project management company to conduct an Impact Assessment of the two options; 4 and 6. The Terms of Reference (ToR) for the Impact Assessment provide for an assessment of; •
The Physical Impact, including the oceanographic parameters and beach dynamics for the project footprint and immediate adjacent areas
A Biological Environmental Assessment, using standard field techniques to permit a clear description of the potentially affected areas with special emphasis on the project footprint and immediate adjacent vicinity and 6
The Human Environmental Impact each of the 2 proposals may have.
Since the Strategic Plan and Master Plan, the preferred alternatives (4 and 6) have been enhanced to reflect an ultimate desired runway length of 7,000 feet. This length is intended to provide full service range to B737‐800 aircraft and similar models built by Airbus. In addition, minor taxiway alignment and land reclamation changes have been made to optimize the plans and ensure they comply with the latest Overseas Territories Aviation Regulations (OTAR) and International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) standards. Options 4 and 6 are illustrated overleaf.
In this section we describe the airfield design criteria that apply to all airports under the control of the BVIAA and that would be required to provide non‐stop commercial air service to North America. Aerodrome Reference Code As determined in the 2011 Strategic Plan and Master Plan, the proposed design aircraft is the B737‐800, which corresponds to an Aerodrome Reference Code (ARC) of 4C. The ARC is a coding system developed by ICAO to relate airport design criteria to the operational and physical characteristics of the critical aircraft that operates at a particular airport. The first component, the number 4, relates to the critical aircraft’s required field length, and the second component, the letter C, relates to its wingspan. Exhibit 10 in the appended report by Ricondo & Associates Inc. provides plan and profile views of the current design aircraft, the ATR‐72, as well as the proposed design aircraft, the B737‐800. The B737‐700 is also shown, as several airlines expressed interest in operating this aircraft to/from the BVI. Both B737 aircraft models are assumed to be enhanced with winglets. Example:
Runway ‐ Instrument & Non‐Instrument A non‐instrument (or visual) runway can only accommodate landings during visual meteorological conditions. Although the weather conditions in the BVI are typically good, there may be a need for visual, vertical or lateral guidance during the approach phase of a flight. This guidance can be provided in the form of an instrument approach procedure. An instrument approach may be precision or non‐precision. A precision approach provides vertical, lateral and range guidance, allowing for landings in lower weather conditions; however, this requires the approach path to be clear of obstacles. Numerous terrain obstacles are present in the approach path to Runway 07, preventing implementation of a precision approach for the existing runway. However, due to the low occurrence of weather conditions requiring precision instrument approaches, a non‐precision instrument approach is considered sufficient during poor weather conditions, and would increase safety during any weather conditions. It would provide lateral and visual guidance. Coordination with US airlines revealed that area navigation (RNAV) procedures, a type of non‐ precision instrument approach, would be acceptable for commercial passenger aircraft similar to the B737‐800. Runway Length Although the proposed design aircraft could take off from the existing runway and reach North America, it would have to do so with significant passenger payload penalties. There is a direct relationship between the number of passengers onboard an aircraft and how much fuel an aircraft can carry: the more passengers, the less fuel, resulting in a shorter range. For instance, British Airways operates an all‐business class round‐trip flight between New York’s JFK Airport and London City Airport (LCY), which represents a route approximately 3,472 nautical miles long, on an Airbus A318. In order to achieve this flight range, the aircraft is configured to accommodate no more than 32 passengers, compared to the standard 132; the low number of passengers translates into additional payload capacity, such as enough fuel for a transatlantic flight. Also noteworthy is the fact that the runway length at LCY (4,948 feet) restricts the maximum take‐off weight of the aircraft, and as a result, limits the amount of fuel that can be carried; as such, the westbound flight from LCY to JFK has to make a fuel stop in Shannon, Ireland (SNN). The longest runway at SNN, which is 10,500 feet, allows the A318 to carry
enough fuel for the remaining 2,678 nautical miles flight to JFK. For the eastbound flight, JFK’s runway lengths can accommodate the A318 with enough fuel for the non‐stop flight to LCY. A runway length analysis will determine the required runway length at the Airport in order to operate profitable flights to North America, in commercial aircraft with mixed passenger seating, as the ones that are anticipated to/from the BVI. Runway length, as specified in OTAR Part 139,1 is a function of the longest runway length required: •
based on the length of haul or takeoff weight;
as determined by the performance characteristics of the design aircraft, and;
corrected for local conditions such as the airport’s normal maximum operating temperature, elevation, humidity, runway gradient, and runway surface.
Aircraft operating characteristics of the design aircraft, the B737‐800 according to the Strategic Plan and Master Plan, were evaluated to determine the length requirements of the proposed runway. Operating characteristics of the B737‐700 were evaluated as well, as several airlines expressed interest in operating this aircraft to/from the BVI. Range and Payload Analysis Existing Runway Length Aircraft operating capabilities were evaluated to determine maximum payload at various ranges, based on the existing runway length of 4,645 feet . The table below summarizes the results, which indicate that should the existing runway length be maintained, the B737‐800 may operate at no higher than a 55 percent load factor, and the B737‐700 no higher than an 85 percent load factor.
Anticipated Load Factors with the Existing Runway Length
AIRCRAF T TYPE B737-700
OPERATIONAL TAKE-OFF WEIGHT (LBS) 1/
MAX. SEATS AVAILABLE 2/
NUMBER OF PASSENGERS THAT CAN BE CARRIED 3/
RESULTING MAXIMUM LOAD FACTOR
Notes: 1/ The operational takeoff weights are based on an available runway length of 4,645 feet, and assume standard day conditions + 15 degrees Celsius (= 30 degrees celsius) at an airport elevation of 0 feet. 2/ The seating configurations are representative of a standard configuration containing first class and economy seating. 3/ The number of passengers was determined based on an average passenger weight of 220 lbs. (including luggage) and the available payload based on the specific range. NM = nautical miles, LBS = pounds Sources: Boeing Airplane Characteristics Planning Manuals; Ricondo & Associates, Inc., April 2012. Prepared by: Ricondo & Associates, Inc., April 2012.
Optimal Runway Length The table below summarizes the runway lengths required to operate an aircraft with a 100 percent load factor to various North American markets. Results show that a B737‐700 aircraft would need a runway length of approximately 6,400 feet to operate to various markets along the US East Coast at full load factor. However, the design aircraft determined in the Strategic Plan and Master Plan, the B737‐800, would require a runway length of approximately 7,330 feet to operate to the same markets.
Required Runway Lengths at Full Load Factor
AIRCRAFT TYPE B737-700
REQUIRED RUNWAY LENGTH (FEET)
OPERATIONAL TAKEOFF WEIGHT (LBS) 1/
NUMBER OF SEATS AVAILABLE / PASSENGERS CARRIED 2/
Notes: 1/ The required runway length requirement was based on a daily maximum average hot temperature of 33 degrees Celsius at an airport elevation of 15 feet. 2/ The seating configurations are representative of a standard configuration containing first class and economy seating. NM = nautical miles, LBS = pounds Source: Boeing Airplane Characteristics Planning Manuals; Ricondo & Associates, Inc., April 2012. Prepared by: Ricondo & Associates, Inc., April 2012.
Neighboring Airports Runway Length Comparison For comparison purposes, the table below compiles a list of neighboring Caribbean airports and whether they provide non‐stop commercial air service to North America, and if so, to what market, along with the length of their (longest) runway. Terrance B. Lettsome International Airport is also listed as a benchmark. Airports are listed from longest to shortest runway length. Results show that no neighboring airport to the BVI currently provides non‐stop commercial air service to North America with a runway length comparable to Terrance B. Lettsome International Airport’s existing runway. 13
Neighboring Caribbean Airports with Commercial Air Service to North America
RUNWAY LENGTH (FEET)
NON-STOP MARKETS SERVED IN NORTH AMERICA
Henry E Rohlsen Airport
St. Croix, US Virgin Islands
Luiz Munoz Marin International Airport
San Juan, Puerto Rico
V. C. Bird International Airport
St. John's, Antigua
JFK, EWR, MIA, CLT, ATL
Robert L. Bradshaw International Airport
Basseterre, St. Kitts and Nevis
JFK, MIA, ATL, CLT
Princess Juliana International Airport
St. Marteen, Netherlands Antilles
ATL, CLT, ORD, FLL, MIA, JFK, EWR, PHL, IAD
Cyril E King Airport
St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands
ATL, MIA, JFK, EWR, LGA, FLL, ORD, IAD, CLT, PHL
Ponce, Puerto Rico
Clayton J Lloyd International Airport
The Valley, Anguilla
Eugenio Maria de Hostos Airport
Mayaguez, Puerto Rico
Terrance B. Lettsome International Airport
Beef Island, BVI
Antonio Rivera Rodríguez Airport
Vieques, Puerto Rico
F.D Roosevelt Airport
Sint Eustatius, Caribbean Netherlands
Vance W. Amory International Airport
St. Kitts and Nevis
Sources: Various airport and tourism bureau websites; Ricondo & Associates, Inc., April 2012. Prepared by: Ricondo & Associates, Inc., April 2012.
Conclusion As shown by the Range/Payload Analysis and suggested by the Neighboring Airports Comparison, the existing runway length is insufficient to support profitable non‐stop air carrier operations to North America. A runway length of 7,330 feet would allow the design aircraft to take‐off at the Airport’s maximum average temperature of 33 degrees Celsius, with enough fuel to reach North America and a 100 percent load factor. As such, the BVIAA determined that a runway extension to a total runway length of 7,000 feet (2,134 meters) should accommodate most aircraft operations to North America in the design aircraft (B737‐800).
2.2 Project Location
Terrance B Lettsome International Airport. The Terrance B Lettsome International Airport is located on Beef Island, which is separated from the mainland, Tortola, by the Beef Island Channel. Both islands are connected by the Queen Elizabeth Bridge, which spans the narrow channel. Beef Island is sparsely populated. To the west is a small residential community in Little Mountain, and villas in Well Bay. Trellis Bay, a charter boat and business hub, is in the center of the island. To the northern side of Beef Island are three bays : Long Bay, Conch Bay, and Trellis Bay. Long Bay is a long crescent‐shaped bay approximately ¾ of a mile long, and is used primarily by local residents for recreational activities. Conch Bay is just over ½ a mile long and is located between Long Bay and Trellis Bay. Trellis Bay, a popular hub for charter boats, is a crescent‐shaped stretching from Sprat point to the east to current runway location. TBLIA runway is positioned 16 feet above sea level, aligned in a northeast‐southwest orientation. The airport buildings and facilities are located to the south of the runway. The Airport is approximately 10 miles driving distance east of Road Town. 15
Then named Beef Island Airport was built in 1956 by the operator of a boat ramp, in adjacent Trellis Bay. The original landing strip was approximately 1,800 feet long and 100 feet wide. Royal Engineers of the British Army extended the runway in 1960 and added the first airport traffic controllers. Similar expansions occurred in 1964 and 1968 to accommodate the evolving aircraft fleet. The most recent airport development commenced in 2000 not only to expand the runway but also rebuild the terminal, to further accommodate advancements in aircraft technology and performance. During this latest expansion, the runway was extended to its current length of 4,645 feet and a new airport traffic control tower was constructed. The Airport was also renamed Terrance B. Lettsome International Airport in 2002. In 2004, the Airport became the first of the Overseas Territories in the Caribbean to be certificated for the purpose of public transport (passengers or cargo) and instruction in flying. The OTAR became the regulating standards. The BVIAA was formed the following year as a separate entity to oversee the efficient and effective operations of all airports in the BVI. The Airport property encompasses an area approximately 55 hectares, and is enclosed by a perimeter fence. The Airport has one runway and a partial parallel taxiway. The Airport reference temperature is 30º Celsius. A new passenger terminal was completed in 2004 that enhanced how the BVIAA handles international air travelers. As part of this development, parking areas, access roads and administrative facilities were also added. The Airport is certified to provide Rescue and Fire Fighting Services (RFFS) category 5, which corresponds to aircraft up to 28 meters long and with a fuselage width up to 4 meters, such as the largest aircraft currently operating schedule commercial service at the Airport, the ATR‐72.10 A Non‐Directional Beacon on the Airport property provides air navigation throughout the area. 16
The BVIAA is a limited liability company that owns and operates various helipads throughout the islands and three airports, which are depicted on the map below: 1.
Terrance B. Lettsome International Airport on Beef Island, which is connected to Tortola.
Virgin Gorda Airport on the island of Virgin Gorda.
Auguste George Airport on the island of Anegada.
2.3 Project Description & Associated Activities Since completion of the Master Plan, its preferred options 4 and 6 have been enhanced to reflect an ultimate desired runway length of 7,000 feet (approximately 2,134 meters). This length is intended to provide full‐service range to Boeing 737‐800 aircraft and similar models built by Airbus. In addition, minor taxiway alignment and land reclamation changes have been made to optimize the plans and ensure they comply with OTAR/ICAO. These enhanced alternatives are referred to hereafter as Options 4 and 6, respectively. A description and preliminary evaluation of these options is provided in this section. Option 4 Option 4 is based on Master Plan Alternative A. It proposes the construction of a 7,000‐foot (2,134‐meter) long and 150‐foot (45 meters) wide runway with a 06‐24 alignment (magnetic bearing). No displaced threshold is anticipated to be required on the west end, and a 197‐foot (60‐meter) displaced threshold is recommended on the east end, for boat masts clearance. Because of the proximity of the proposed Runway 06 end and the existing Runway 07 end, the existing runway would be decommissioned to avoid creating an unsafe environment. This runway alignment would eliminate the Salt Pond north of the existing Airport property. The proposed runway would impact both Well Bay and Conch Bay. Required bay fill would penetrate Well Bay by approximately 1,148 feet (350 meters) on the west end, and Conch Bay by approximately 3,773 feet (1,150 meters) on the east end. The existing access road would be realigned around the west runway end. In an effort to minimize bay fill, this option would not include a full‐length parallel taxiway. However, substantial space would become available for potential terminal development. The alignment of Option 4 would also alleviate terrain obstructions in the approach and departure paths, and may allow for the installation of an Instrument Landing System, providing the Airport with precision instrument approach capability. This Assessment deals with impacts associated with expanding the airport runway as defined in the terms of reference. Other phases for the expansion (not part of this assessment) have been elaborated upon in the LB report. Option 4 ‐ Construction Phasing In order to implement the Option 4 improvements with minimal disruptions to airport operations, a phasing plan is proposed in Exhibit 16 of the Ricondo & Associates appended 18
report. Night time construction is recommended for all four phases to avoid daytime impacts to operations both in terms or airspace limitations and runway length restrictions. Phase 1 Phase 1 consists of filling Conch Bay and Well Bay. The bay fill area will accommodate the proposed realigned runway and its safety surfaces, as well as a partial taxiway on the north end and the realigned Blackburn Highway on the south end. No impacts on airport operations are anticipated during daytime hours. Phase 2 Phase 2 consists of the following: •
Construct the northeast portion of the new runway; this will become temporary Runway 06‐24. • Construct the taxiway connecting to the Runway 24 end • Construct a temporary taxiway to access the temporary Runway 06 end • Realign Blackburn Highway and demolish existing alignment. No impacts to airport operations are anticipated to the existing runway or to operations. Phase 3 Phase 3 consists of the following: • • • •
Relocate operations from existing Runway 07‐25 to temporary Runway 06‐24, built in Phase 2. This temporary runway is 4,210 feet (1,283 meters) long. Demolish the west end of Runway 07‐25. Construct the southwest portion of future Runway 06‐24. Construct the taxiway extension to the southwest.
Although the airport is planned to be open during daytime hours, operation may incur some payload restrictions as a result of using only a portion of the new runway which will be shorter that the existing. Phase 4 Phase 4 consists of the following: •
Demolish center portion of Runway 07‐25 and temporary Runway 06 end taxiway built in Phase 1. 19
No impacts are anticipated to the temporary runway as construction is recommended to be completed at night. However, operations would still be conducted on the temporary runway, which is 4,210 feet (1,283 meters) long. Similar to Phase 3, this may result in payload restrictions for some aircraft operations. Option 6 – Construction Phasing Option 6 is based on Master Plan Alternative F and it depicted in Exhibit 17 of the Ricondo & Associates appended report. It proposes to extend both ends of the existing runway to a total length of 7,000 feet (2,134 meters). The west runway end would be extended approximately 508 feet (155 meters) and the east end approximately 1,847 feet (563 meters). The existing displaced threshold on the west end is anticipated to remain in place for terrain obstruction clearance, increasing the displacement to 1,001 feet (305 meters), and an 197‐foot (60‐meter) displaced threshold is recommended on the east end, for boat masts clearance. The runway width would be increased to 150 feet (45 meters) to comply with both OTAR and FAA standards for B737 aircraft. The proposed runway would impact both Well Bay and Trellis Bay. Required bay fill would penetrate Well Bay by approximately 984 feet (300 meters) on the west end and the 1,969 feet (600‐meter) of bay fill on the east end would significantly restrict boat access to Trellis Bay. The existing roadway access would be realigned around the west runway end. In an effort to minimize bay fill, this option would not include a full‐length parallel taxiway. This Assessment deals with impacts associated with expanding the airport runway as defined in the terms of reference. Other phases for the expansion (not part of this assessment) have been elaborated upon in the LB report. In order to implement the Option 4 improvements with minimal disruptions to airport operations, a phasing plan is proposed in Exhibit 19 of the Ricondo & Associates appended report. Nighttime construction is recommended for all five phases to avoid runway length restrictions during daytime operations. Phase 1 Phase 1 consists of filling Trellis Bay and Well Bay. The bay fill area will accommodate the proposed runway extension and its safety surfaces, as well as a partial taxiway and the realigned Blackburn Highway on the west end. No impacts are anticipated to the existing runway or to operations. 20
Phase 2 Phase 2 consists of the following: •
Construct the eastern portion of the proposed runway.
Realign Blackburn Highway and demolish existing alignment
No impacts are anticipated to the existing runway or to operations. Phase 3 Phase 3 consists of the following: •
Relocate Runway 07 and 25 thresholds to obtain temporary Runway 07‐25.
Construct the tie‐in with the eastern portion of future Runway 07‐25 built in Phase 2.
Construct the eastern portion of the parallel taxiway extension.
Construct the temporary runway entrance taxiway.
No impacts are anticipated to the existing runway or to operations, as construction is recommended to be completed at night. However, the temporary runway is 4,120 feet (1,283 meters) long, which may result in payload restrictions for some aircraft operations. Also, the relocation of the Runway 07 threshold would require instrument approach procedures modifications. Phase 4 Phase 4 consists of the following: •
Commission the Runway 25 extension
Relocate the Runway 07 and 25 thresholds. The resulting runway length is 5,462 feet (1,665 meters).
Construct the western portion of the runway extension and widen western portion of existing runway.
Construct western portion of taxiway extension.
Demolish existing western taxiway connectors.
No impacts are anticipated to the temporary runway as construction is recommended to be completed at night. However, operations would still be conducted on the temporary runway, which is 4,120 feet (1,283 meters) long. This may result in payload restrictions for some aircraft 21
operations. Also, the relocation of the thresholds would require instrument approach procedures modifications. Phase 5 Phase 5 consists of the following: •
Widen center portion of Runway 07‐25.
Relocate Runway 07 threshold.
Demolish temporary runway entrance taxiway.
No impacts are anticipated to the runway or operations as construction is recommended to be completed at night. The relocation of the thresholds would require instrument approach procedures modifications. It should be noted that under water high voltage electrical cables run in close proximity to the runway expansion project. These cables will need to be relocated prior to the commencement of construction activities. The construction phasing plans do not take this aspect in to consideration. 22
Preliminary Evaluation of Options The table below lists the characteristics of Options 4 and 6, along with specific impacts. Preferred Options Characteristics CHARACTERISTICS Runway Length
OPTION 4 Rwy 06 & Rwy 24: 7,000 ft/2,134 m
Rwy 07 & Rwy 25: 7,000 ft/2,134 m
Rwy 06: 7,000 ft/2,134m; Rwy 24: 6,803 ft/2,074 m
Rwy 07: 5,999 ft/1,829 m; Rwy 25: 6,803 ft/2,074 m
Accommodates Critical Aircraft
Tortola and Scrub Island (minor)
Tortola and Scrub Island (significant)
Existing Navigational Aids Impacts
No impacts to NDB
No impacts to NDB
Additional Navigational Aids
551 ft/168 m (instrument runway)
315 ft/96 m (visual operations)
49 ft/15 m wide (82 ft/25 m with shoulders)
49 ft/15 m wide (82 ft/25 m with shoulders)
Rwy 24: masts
Rwy 07: terrain; Rwy 25: masts
Runway End Access
No taxiway to Rwy 06 end
No taxiway to Rwy 25 end
No use of parallel taxiway during instrument operations
Salt Pond Impacts
82.8 acres/33.5 ha total
37.6 acres/15.2 ha total
65.5 acres/26.5 ha of bay fill
22.2 acres/9 ha of bay fill
17.3 acres/7.0 ha of bay fill
15.2 acres/6.2 ha of bay fill
Limited Trellis Bay boat access
Existing Airport Facilities Impacts
Facilities inside runway strip
AOA Expansion Needs
103.8 acres/42 ha (Wells Bay, Conch Bay and Salt Pond)
36.3 acres/14.7 ha (Wells Bay and Trellis Bay)
Waterfront Dr. realignment
Waterfront Dr. realignment
NOTES: FT = FEET, M = METERS, HA = HECTARES Source: BVIAA, December 2011; Ricondo & Associates, Inc., May 2012. Prepared by: Ricondo & Associates, Inc., May 2012.
2.4 Alternatives In order to remain regionally and globally competitive, it is believed that the Territory has the following three choices, as outlined in the LBG 2011 report, “Strategic Plan & Master Planning for the British Virgin Islands:” • •
Continue the high‐end low density tourism strategy with low to moderate long‐term growth rates. Switch to a medium income higher density tourism development strategy similar to that of St. Thomas and St. Maarten with much higher growth rates and potential negative impact on the environment and certain market segments. Utilize a mixed approach that would include higher density development among some of islands or limit it to one island such as Anegada.
The LBG reports of 2006 and 2011 analysed in detail the various sites for development and an extensive variety of alignment options. Options 4 and 6 form the basis of this assessment. This does not mean that options 4 or 6 will be the final design selected by BVIAA for development. The socio‐economic impact study appended to the report focuses on the potential impact of the proposed project on the human environment, including the benefits of alternatives to the proposed project. The alternatives to the proposed project are the “without project” scenario and “alternative project” scenarios which are summarized as follows. 24
No Project Scenario The table below illustrates the potential negative impact of keeping the existing runway. Negative Impact of Keeping the Existing Runway Area Runway
Issue Maintenance Costs
Insufficient parking space for private jets Too short a runway
Impending global shortage of pilots resulting from retiring baby boomers Too many long passenger lines at every turn during the high season Too few high quality, customer‐ focused concessions Lack of convenient access to the BVI No local jets for charter
Visitors Medical Emergencies
Taxis Spin‐off Opportunities for thriving retail activity Regional Competition Dependence on St. Thomas, Puerto Rico, St. Marteen and Antigua
Dissatisfied customers Loss revenue, less than optimum customer experience
Decline in the number of visitors resulting in unemployment, shorter work week, crime, etc. Medivac flights to Puerto Rico, Santo Domingo, Miami, etc., are provided by jets from other destinations, a form of cabotage that results in loss revenue for the airport and local carriers. Lack of increased capacity to Lost opportunity to create a fast and efficient cargo transport cargo fast and efficiently service, resulting in loss revenue and shorter shelf life for perishable goods Declining visitor trend Decreased occupational income stream Provisioning of flights, hotel Lost opportunity to make forays into other business representatives meeting guests, ventures. souvenir shops, transportation, etc. Competitive disadvantage Caribbean destinations with direct flights from the US mainland and elsewhere will surpass the BVI Becoming more self‐reliant Without greater control of air services, the Territory remains vulnerable
Impact Investing in maintaining a non‐competitive aviation strategy Reduced megayacht activity, loss of revenue and potential investors Private charter jets such as Net Jets would not be able to come to TBLIA under wet weather conditions. Larger airlines will raid the pilots of smaller airlines leaving the BVI vulnerable
Positive Impact of Keeping the Existing Runway Area Strategic Investments
Stress on the Capitol
Issue Setting Priorities. Monies earmarked for the extended runway could be used to invest in other critical and urgent product development areas that lag behind the current airport infrastructure in their capacity to deliver services and improve the quality of life, namely, completing the hospital project; improving water, sewage and electricity capacity; cleaning up Tortola, (waste, litter, derelict vehicles, etc.) restoring the bays to a healthy state, etc. The type of visitors that are attracted to this high end destination will continue to come The expected net gain in connectivity from direct flights from the U.S. mainland could be offset by the distance visitors have to travel or connections they have to make to get to the three targeted US gateways: Miami, Atlanta and New York. Already limited carrying capacity in other social sectors, especially in Road Town, namely, health, education, employment, housing, and traffic, to name a few. BVIslanders compete with vacation home owners for rental tenants
Impact Enhanced tourism product
The repeat visitors and others will continue to visit because of the unique characteristics of the BVI that they have come to enjoy. Off‐setting connection gains
By reallocating funds to improving the existing social infrastructure, it will keep pace with the existing airport infrastructure The current steady state in the number of visitors – and potential investors – would allow BVIslanders to capitalize on the rental market.
An alternative, frequently voiced during public consultation would be to extend the airport runway in incremental stages and improve the ferry service. It is suggested by some that expansion be considered in incremental stages of 500 feet with associated cost points to determine the cost‐benefit of regional jets from the US mainland, in the first instance, followed at a later stage by larger B‐737‐700 jets. Incremental Expansion Area Runway Length
Issue Cost‐Benefit 7,000 feet 6,500 feet 6,000 feet
Impact Severely impacts Trellis Bay Moderately impacts Trellis Bay Less impact on Trellis Bay
As a corollary to incremental expansion, the interim use of regional jets is an option. Eventually a national airline could be considered to reduce the Territory’s dependence on US carriers, as shown in the following table. Use of Regional Jets and National Airline Area Regional Jets National Airline
Issue Direct flights to the U.S. mainland Direct flights to the U.S. mainland, as well as within the Caribbean region
Impact This service will allow the BVI Government time to test the market. This service will allow the BVI Government time to test the market, while reducing its dependence on U.S. carriers.
Improve Ferry and Associated Services Because most visitors to the Territory arrive by ferry, instead of extending the airport runway, consideration could be given to improving the ferry terminals at West End and Road Town. Upon their arrival in St. Thomas, BVI‐bound visitors (and residents) are then transported by taxi to the St. Thomas ferry terminal and from there by ferry to the BVI. The table below illustrates the potential impact of an improved ferry and associated services to the BVI as an alternative to the development of TBLIA. 27
Improving the Ferry and Associated Services Area Issue Schedules Ferry schedules are not compatible with airline schedules
Impact Stranded passengers for whom St. Thomas could become a destination of choice
Quality of Ferries are not well‐kept. Service Gas fumes permeate the ferry cabins; luggage and goods are taken off the ferries before passengers disembark
Frustrated visitors and residents
St. Thomas Airport
Passengers arrive in St. Stranded visitors Thomas often times not knowing how or what to do next
Immigration and customs clearance
BVI Ferry Terminals
Create an immigration and customs bottle neck
Frustrating experience. Red Hook restaurants have had some success in deterring BVI‐bound yachtsmen from sailing to Jost Van Dyke and other BVI destinations because of the inconvenient US customs and immigration clearance system Frustrated visitors and residents
Mitigating Measures Govt. could require ferries to have online & printed schedules that are compatible with the airlines schedule Govt. could subsidize the purchase and operation of a high speed ferry service, perhaps with a business class that goes to Virgin Gorda as well. The feasibility of pre‐ clearance should also be explored. The BVI Govt. could have leverage in negotiating the setting up of a customer service desk at the St. Thomas airport, since the BVI contributes significantly to the loads coming into St. Thomas. The individual staffing the desk, could welcome guests and ensure that they are dispatched to by taxi to their respective ferries in an effective, orderly and seamless manner, as well as notify the ferries and the hotels that their guests have arrived and are on their way to the BVI. Talks could commence between the BVI Govt. and the USVI Govt. about utilizing the Red Hook ferry terminal for immigration and customs clearance as opposed to St. John. Plans to improve the ferry terminals are in progress
3. Approach & Methodology 3.1 General Approach This environmental report summarizes the physical and biological conditions encountered during numerous site visits to the airport vicinity during the winter and spring months of 2011 and 2012. In addition, efforts were made to assemble all historical data that may be relevant to the runway extension plans described in this assessment. A historical review was conducted to document and evaluate previous anthropogenic impacts at the site. Details of human use and history of the island are contained in the Archaeological / Historical Assessment in the Appendix. Much of the information presented here is descriptive in nature. This is a characterization of the natural and modified terrestrial and marine habitats. A specific terrestrial assessment was conducted by consultants from Island Resources Foundation and that report is included in the Appendix. A Water Quality Assessment was conducted during the survey period. A separate report is included in the Appendix. The marine survey data are summarized in this report and species lists are presented as a separate appendix. Special effort was made to identify habitats or organisms that may be adversely affected by the proposed runway extension plans. Wherever possible, suggestions or recommendations are offered to mitigate potential negative impacts. Since the runway extension plans may impact oceanographic processes, such as currents and sediment transport, detailed engineering studies and computer modeling were employed to assess the potential risks. These studies are summarized in the IA with detailed reports included in the Appendix. The primary purpose of this environmental study is to evaluate the existing ecosystems and to ensure that the extension plans produce minimal impacts in the immediate airport vicinity and surrounding environments. Toward that goal, the following general topics were considered: • • • • •
The environmental setting and relevant issues The physical, abiotic environment Terrestrial habitats Marine habitats Special environmental concerns o Species of economic concern o Rare and endangered species o Invasive species 29
o Insect pests and vectors of diseases o Sewage and water quality issues Archaeological and cultural resources
Methodology The historical review was conducted by consulting governmental, non‐governmental and private sources for documents and other information related to this site. Sources included the Town & Country Planning Department, Conservation & Fisheries Department, National Parks Trust, and numerous private individuals. Several photographs were discovered showing the airport in various stages of development beginning with pre‐development agricultural uses. A few reports and studies on the airport and surrounding areas provided useful historical data and perspectives. The consultant responsible for the Archaeological/historical assessment conducted a similar assessment for the Beef Island development proposals. Thus, he gathered a substantial quantity of historical data for Beef Island. Much is relevant to the airport vicinity. Pertinent information is summarized in that report (see appendix). An analysis of potential impacts on the oceanographic conditions required data sets on currents, waves and sediment characteristics. Toward that goal, several hi‐tech instruments were deployed in the field. The instruments included a wave profiler and current meter. These gathered data on currents and wave patterns in a variety of locations. A series of sediment samples were collected at Trellis Bay, Long Bay, Well Bay, and other locations in the airport vicinity. Samples were one litre and collected by hand. They were shipped to a laboratory in the US for analysis. Those data were then used as the basis for modeling sediment transport in the area. As a part of the socio‐economic assessment, interviews were conducted with individuals possessing first‐hand knowledge and experience related to historical events at Beef Island. Such oral recollections proved useful in understanding current conditions and attitudes regarding the development at the airport. Numerous meetings and focus groups gathered responses from individuals who may be affected by the current proposals for the runway extension. These included special interest groups, owners of nearby businesses, and anyone directly or indirectly impacts by the proposal. Naturally, a project of this magnitude will have far reaching impacts, and it can be argued that everyone in the Territory will be affected. Thus, given a limited time 30
frame for the assessment, it was necessary to prioritize the amount of impact any individual may experience. In the interest of transparency and to give the general public an opportunity to express their opinions, the Minister responsible for the project scheduled two open meetings where the project was described and everyone had an opportunity to offer an opinion. Several environmental assessments, engineering reports, student research projects and governmental reports have been produced and in the vicinity of the airport. Approximately a decade ago the previous airport expansion required engineering studies and EIA’s. The information gathered for that work was most useful in the preparation of the current Impact Assessment. In recent years, there have been numerous studies in the area surrounding the airport. The topics were wide ranging from studies of reef fish distribution by ICLARM to studies of the yachting and diving industry. Many were studies by graduate students from universities in the US or UK. Where the studies produced reports with information relevant to the current assessment, they were included in the analysis of issues affecting this proposal. An extensive study on the factors affecting fish distribution in the coastal habitats of the British Virgin Islands was completed by Brian Gratwicke in 2004. The research was in partial fulfillment of his PhD studies at Oxford University in the UK. The citation for the study is included in the reference section of the appendix. A portion of the study covering the relationship between fish distribution and water quality was conducted in Hans Creek. That section of the study is attached to this Environmental Report. Excerpts of his data and analysis are incorporated into the habitat descriptions contained in this Environmental Report. Field visits, surveys, and assessments were conducted during the winter and spring, 2011 and 2012. The terrestrial surveys covered all portions of the airport property and nearby habitats that may be affected. Species lists of flora and fauna were compiled for major taxa. Underwater swimming visual surveys utilizing both snorkel and SCUBA were conducted to map and describe the marine habitats surrounding the project site. While surveys concentrated on the footprint of the two runway options, additional surveys were conducted further afield in the presumed indirect impact zones. Underwater survey techniques were designed to follow accepted protocols for such assessments. For example, the original intent was to sample the marine habitats in the runway extension footprint with standard transects. However, frequent strong currents made such 31
procedures very difficult and hazardous. Thus, survey techniques were modified to point counts, random quadrat samples and roving fish surveys. Additional survey methods were adapted to field conditions and the type of information necessary. Surveys on land and in the sea were primarily qualitative rather than quantitative, although the underwater transects produced considerable useful data. Photographs of habitats and species of special interest were taken to provide documentation of existing conditions. They are included in the appendices. Field data were reviewed and analyzed to create an assessment of current conditions in the direct and indirect impact zone. Whenever possible, historical information was combined with current conditions and findings to improve the final assessment accuracy. The data were then used to construct a brief narrative describing both terrestrial and marine environments. This formed the basis for the discussion of additional issues of concern and, ultimately, the recommendations. Voucher specimens were collected where possible and practical. Invertebrates were collected using standard sampling procedures such as blacklight traps, pit falls, sweep nets, and other appropriate techniques. A few vertebrate specimens were found dead and preserved accordingly. Specimens were preserved in various preparations of ETOH, to permit future DNA analysis. All specimens have been or will be deposited in scientific collections or museums for further study. A detailed photographic record of species and habitats was made during the surveys. Samples are included in this report. Recommendations and suggestions are made to minimize any negative impacts that may be caused by construction, future operations, or other activities. These are generally made in appropriate sections of the discussion. The runway extension development plans have been carefully examined with particular regard to the location, site characteristics, neighboring land and sea use, and requirements for service. Socio‐economic conditions were assessed by direct observations, discussions with the business community, planners, environmental scientist, and literature review. It was important to observe first‐ hand the activities at Trellis Bay, the airport and surrounding islands, the purpose of which was to compare the perspectives from an objective vantage point 32
of others who were either directly involved in the activities or closely aligned with them and had an emotional attachment thereto. Observations were carried out as follows: • • • • • • •
The daily activities at Trellis Bay were observed on numerous occasions. Several trips were made to Scrub Island Toured the airside facilities at the airport including VI Airlink’s hangar Toured within and around Trellis Bay harbor by dinghy Circumvented Beef Island by sea and Guana Island Visited Indigo Plantation at Great Camanoe Visited the Last Resort at Bellamy Cay
A Scoping Study was submitted to BVIAA and the town & Country Planning Authority for review on 16th April 2012. Comments from that study have not been received to date. It is the opinion of the consultant that the terms of reference are unlikely to vary significantly upon receipt of comments from the TCPA.
3.2 Assumptions, Uncertainties & Constraints The Airport site presents the following constraints to a runway extension and/or realignment: Socio Economic Insufficient information about the proposed runway extension was a primary concern from the public during this assessment, including interview and focus group participants. There are limited estimates regarding the number and frequency of flights and the number of persons to be employed during the construction and operations phases of the project. A recurrent question from interview and focus group participants, “what are we giving up, and what are we getting?”can probably not be fully answered until a cost benefit analysis is completed. A cost benefit analysis will examine whether the BVI society will benefit from extending the airport runway and also calculates non‐economic benefits that have a value to people, but do not directly affect the flow of money in the economy. 33
Environmental There are assumptions related to this Impact Assessment Report. One obvious assumption deals with predicting negative impacts from certain activities. Any time topography is altered or natural environments are removed or modified, there can only be predictions of outcomes. They may be well informed predictions based on previous experience, but they are still predictions. Thus, there are assumptions regarding the possible outcomes of various activities associated with this project. Certainly, assumptions and uncertainties must be considered when environmental conditions and variables are subjected to assessment by way of computer modeling. It is often impractical, or impossible, to predict future events. This is particularly true in environments, such as coastal marine habitats, where there is limited historical information to guide an assessment. Even a stochastic model that takes account of probability can have a number of possible results from a given input. While such computer models are frequently criticized for insufficient hard data or uncertain outcomes, they are often the best that can be achieved unless much more time and expense are invested in detailed studies. Often, when additional data are acquired, the results tend to confirm the models. There seems to be a point of diminishing returns where data collection is concerned. Therefore, the present study contains a level of uncertainty based on the assumptions that must be made. It remains the opinion of the consultants that the predictions regarding the potential impacts are reasonable given the state of knowledge at this time. There are also assumptions that some proposed mitigation measures will produce the desired result. There may be issues of degree of success in various efforts. Mitigating loss of mangroves, sea grass beds, and coral reefs cannot be certain and success is not guaranteed. Very often success may be partial and improve over longer time periods. Clearly there may be uncertainty in some proposed measures. There will also be some level of uncertainty regarding the future water quality in Trellis Bay. The bay is a complex system with many variables, both natural and anthropogenic, functioning simultaneously. Some assumptions must be made regarding the proposed mitigation measures to maintain and improve future water quality. Naturally, the proposals will be constrained by the realities associated with implementing the recommendations.
Any project of this complexity and magnitude must rely on a variety of assumptions. When dealing with the constraints of fluctuating natural environments and unpredictable socio‐ economic conditions a degree of uncertainty must be expected and accepted. The stochasticity of the real world will ultimately affect every project regardless of size or level of planning. Coastal Conditions Study Full analysis of the information generated by the numeric models could continue for months. As we incorporate the wave and current data recently gathered in the field, the numerical models employed for this study will be adjusted to be more accurate and therefore more useful as predictive tools. Future modeling efforts may involve additional refinements to the regional circulation model. It should also include the application of the coupled flow and wave simulations with coordinated wave states and tidal forcing. The model results generated as part of this phase of the process predict that any of the proposed modifications to the airport will produce significant change in the circulation of Trellis Bay. The flow trace animations of all of the modified options bear this out in a qualitative sense. The quantitative comparison at sample points inside Trellis Bay also bears this out. Velocity plots for locations inside the bay show significantly decreased velocity of flow inside Trellis Bay for Options 4 and 6 through the entire tidal cycle giving an indication of reduction in the circulation of the bay. These results, while preliminary indicate that maintaining acceptable water quality inside the bay must be considered as a significant issue as this project moves forward into final option selection and design. Extensive study may be required to investigate remediation options and ensure that environmental impacts to Trellis Bay do not result. Utility of the bay may also enter into consideration. This phase of the project examined circulation in the bay by reviewing flux across the mouth of the bay and velocities of currents in the bay. Additional study may evaluate other water quality measures including average residence time of the water in the bay and water quality constituent modeling. As indicated in the preceding sections, based on the initial findings, this phase of the modeling effort included two additional scenarios related to circulation in Trellis Bay for Option 6. Specifically, one simulation was generated with a portion of Sprat Point removed and another with a canal constructed to connect Trellis Bay and Well Bay along the island added. In addition 35
to these options, the option of flushing Trellis Bay under the runway using a 492 ft opening comprised of either a section of piles to support part of the runway, or placing box culverts under the runway was considered and preliminary costing estimates for these approaches were made. The results from the Sprat Point removal and canal additional simulations proved to be surprising, and therefore warrant further investigation. The model reported more impact on the circulation and velocity in many portions of the bay from the canal than from the removal of Sprat Point. Since circulation through the canal is driven only by tidal differences across the island, this was not anticipated and we recommend further evaluation of this finding. However, these results also suggests that flushing under the runway, with possibly less than the 492 ft opening currently presented, by either the pile supported runway or fewer culvert openings may be an efficient method to provide the needed circulation.
4.0 Environmental Policy, legislative And Planning Framework The government of the British Virgin Islands is currently in the process of reviewing all legislation involving environmental matters. Several years ago, the government formed a Law Reform Commission. Within that Commission various committees were organized to review sections of environmental legislation and make recommendations for changes. The purpose was to discard or modify outdated laws, create new, more appropriate legislation and to harmonize all environmental laws and enforcement responsibilities across the numerous agencies currently given those responsibilities. This process shall take some time. Thus, any decisions made under existing statutes may be subject to review or modification in the future. Meanwhile The Land Development Control Guidelines, 1972, should be considered a relevant document to guide aspects of this project. Consideration should also be given to other relevant existing legislation and best practices regarding any activity that may produce environmental impacts. Equally important is the application of standard, industry accepted, Best Management Practices to guide the planning and implementation of the proposed runway extension. Such BMP’s are well understood and may be identified and recommended for specific uses. A good example involves the use of erosion control devices to prevent sediment loss to the sea. There are a number of available techniques for erosion control. The type of erosion control recommended will depend on the specific site conditions and the potential risks. Thus, recommendations in an IA must be somewhat broad and result driven rather than process driven. For that reason, recommendations are often to apply BMP’s and provide specifics later when more information becomes available.
4.1 Environmental Policy & Legislative Framework There are numerous existing laws that have bearing on a project of this size and scope. These generally address environmental issues from more than one perspective. For example, environmental health laws come under the jurisdiction of the Health Department. They may offer comments on issues such as invasive species, pest control, or waste water and water quality. These same issues may also be addressed by the Conservation and Fisheries Department or the Department of Agriculture. Most regulations are more policy than actual legislation. Presumably one future outcome of the Law Reform Commission review will be to harmonize policy and clarify responsibilities. Thus, a detailed review of all environmental legislation may be difficult or impractical at this time. By following accepted industry standard best practices and the recommendations contained in this report, the runway extension project should be able to proceed with no serious legislative environmental obstacles. Since this project is of Territory wide significance, there could be difference of opinion regarding the degree to which certain laws or regulations may apply. Further, there are legal proceedings affecting properties adjacent to the airport. Since those proceedings have a substantial environmental component, there may be issues to be considered. However, since this is a government sponsored project, any legal opinions should come from governmental representation and are beyond the scope of this IA. There are protected areas nearby that may be indirectly affected by this project. In particular, the Hans Creek Fisheries Protected Area is sufficiently close to the project to warrant consideration. While, it does not appear the fisheries area will be directly impacted by this project, issues may appear in the future that could require mitigation. There are numerous multilateral environmental agreements that have been ratified by the government of the BVI or by extension, the UK. Some of these deal with biodiversity (CBD), endangered species trade (CITES), specially protected areas and wildlife (SPAW), wetlands (RAMSAR), and more. While there does not appear to be a direct conflict with the plans for the runway extension, these agreements are complex and there may be issues in the future. The following policy, legislative and planning documents were reviewed to ensure consistency with guidelines and regulations: •
Physical Planning Act 38
Environmental Impact Assessment Regulations
Land Development Control Guidelines
National Integrated Development Strategy
4.2 Consultation & Public Participation As part of the development approval process, there will be ample opportunity for public participation prior to the commencement of construction activities. The planning approval process requires that the Impact Assessment Report be available for public inspection for a period of time. That may be followed by a public hearing where there will be additional opportunity for public input. As a matter of practice, the consultants made every effort to seek public comments. These are encouraged throughout the IA process so that comments, where relevant, can be incorporated into the final report. During the environmental assessment period, two public open forums were conducted by the Minister of NR&L at the East End Community Centre and the Briercliff Hall in Road Town. The purpose was to present the project to the public and to provide an opportunity for the local community to ask questions, offer opinions, and interact with the government and the consultants. The results of the forums are included in this document in the Social Impact Assessment in the Appendix. As part of the process, the consultants conducted interviews, meetings, discussions, and various sessions with individuals and groups of stakeholders. Additional efforts were made to involve the wider BVI community and elicit comments and opinions relevant to the proposed runway extension at the airport. It is to the advantage of an open and transparent government to receive public comments early in the process so that adjustments can be made where necessary. A project will be more successful when all stakeholders have an equal opportunity to be a part of the development approval process. As the following tables show, individual interviews were conducted with aircraft operators and regulators; essential sectoral stakeholders in transportation and real estate; hotel and resort owners/operators; provisioning, gift shop, and restaurant owners/operators; and presidents of charter boat and marine associations. Focus groups were held with residents of communities 39
that would be directly impacted by the extension. Meetings and discussions were held with senior Government officials from essential ministries and departments, as well as directors of related statutory bodies. Interviews – Aircraft Operators, Regulators Area Airport
Interviewees Airline Pilots and Managers of VI Link, Island Birds, American Eagle, LIAT, Cape Air, Fly BVI, and Air Sunshine. (Could not reach BVI Airways) Director, BVIAA Operations Staff, BVIAA Former BVI pilots
Interviews – Sector Stakeholders Sectors Transportation Real Estate Planning
Category of Interviewees Taxi drivers OBM Architect Smiths Gore Former Chief Planner
Interviews – Investors/Managers Interest Trellis Bay businesses Bellamy Cay Marina Cay Scrub Islands Resort and Marina Little Dix Bay Resort Bitter End Yacht Club Oil Nut Bay Peter Island Resort & Spa Maria’s By the Sea Treasure Isle Hotel Surf Song Villa Resort Nanny Cay Resort and Marina
Interviewee Business owners/operators Owner/Operator Owner/Operator Managing Director Managing Director Chief Executive Officer Owner Managing Director Manager Owner Owner Owner
Focus Groups Area Beef Island Great Camanoe Hodges Creek
Groups Trellis Bay business community Little Mountain residents Indigo and Privateer Plantation residents Hodges Creek residents
Meetings/Discussions Stakeholders Government Statutory Bodies
Positions/Department Financial Secretary Shipping Registry Development Planning Unit Statistician Town and Country Planning Conservation and Fisheries Director, Ports Authority Director, National Parks Trust
4.3 Institutional Capacity In the British Virgin Islands, the primary responsibility for environmental protection rests with the Conservation and Fisheries Department. This agency must oversee the environmental aspects of all developments within the Territory. The Department has staff allocated to that task. They conduct a thorough review of all Impact Assessment Reports and follow up with field inspections as needs dictate. Environmental Health has responsibility for protecting public health. They also conduct reviews of reports and offer comments in areas of their expertise. Much of their effort relates to issues of disease, pest management or pollution as it might affect the health of the public. The Department of Disaster Management is charged with safeguarding the public in case of disaster or accident whether caused by natural events or human error. Some aspects of a development, especially as related to safety of life and property, would become their responsibility to regulate.
Naturally the Town and Country Planning Department shoulders the most significant responsibility for orderly development in the BVI. Their mandate crosses many boundaries between Departments. Thus, they share in the oversight of environmental and socio‐economic issues that result from development projects. They have staff dedicated to the task. The Ministry of Natural Resources and Labour is the branch of the local government with ultimate oversight for environmental matters. Most issues related to the environment falls within the portfolio of this Ministry. The Ministry of Natural Resources and Labor is principally responsible for the protection of the Territories natural resources primarily through its department of Conservation and Fisheries and the National Parks Trust. More could be done to better regulate and monitor the charter boat industry, in order to protect the marine environment. The Ministry of Communications and Works that is responsible for roads, electricity, water and sewerage needs to bring about improvements in these areas to ensure that the capacity to meet rising demand and deliver high quality services is normative. The Ministry for Health and Human Services needs to complete the hospital to meet the needs of the current population, as well as future needs, and should be well prepared to handle major emergencies should they occur. The Ministry of Finance and Tourism should embark on the promulgation of a national economic development strategy including a strategy for the development of the tourism industry. The assistance of the United Kingdom and the European Union could be enlisted to provide opportunities for training and development, should this become necessary.
4.4 Relevant Ongoing Projects There are no ongoing projects or activities of any governmental agency, NGO, or any other organization or individual that would be negatively impacted by the runway extension project as far as is known by the consultants. Both the Conservation and Fisheries Department and National Parks Trust conduct research and educational programmes that may occasionally be conducted near the airport or the surrounding waters. Some underwater activities may fall in the same category. However, none 42
are known to be currently ongoing that would be seriously hampered by the activities planned for this runway extension. Ongoing surveys of turtle nesting beaches throughout the BVI include all islands and all beaches. The surveys should be able to continue. It is doubtful this project would seriously impact turtle nesting beaches. There are two major developments – Oil Nut Bay and Nanny Cay – the former of which already has a world‐class mega yacht facility and the other, with a more scaled down version planned would benefit greatly from the airport expansion. YCCS has hosted two extremely successful super yacht regattas to date, the first of its kind in the BVI, each of which brought to the BVI 23 yachts and 26 yachts, respectively. YCCS was also the final destination for the conclusion of the recent transatlantic race that ended with a prize‐giving ceremony. Oil Nut Bay is an 88 freehold, low density villa community situated on 300 acres of land on the peninsula of the eastern tip of Virgin Gorda. Included in home sites are 28 Estate Lots 7 Ridge Villas, 9 Beach Villas, 4 Stone Villas, 11 Atlantic Villas, 12 Peninsula Lots and 6 Boat House Lots. Oil Nut Bay Figure 6: Nanny Cay Development 43
The above image shows the approved plan for the development of Nanny Cay, which includes the expansion and modernization of the boatyard to store approximately 100 additional boats, and the construction of a new marina on the south side of the Cay to accommodate approximately 120 yachts and mega yachts. Also proposed is a helicopter pad in close proximity to the beach, a customs and immigration facility, a club house with a restaurant and administrative offices, a swimming pool, and a relocated tennis court.
5. Existing Environmental Conditions! 5.1 & 5.2 Physical & Biological Environment Beef Island and the airport vicinity have been impacted by human activity for many years. The flat lowland areas have been transformed from arid agricultural landscapes to the present developed state. There is virtually nothing remaining of the original “pristine” and natural habitats either on land or in the near shore waters. The development of the airport and the Trellis Bay area helped to transform the land uses for the island. That history of construction has changed the land and modified habitats on land and in the sea. However, any construction, even in altered environments, may produce unforeseen and negative results. It is important to place the environments on and around the airport in context. While it is true that the much of the land has been transformed, it is also true that natural processes have been at work and ecosystem functions have been rebuilding many habitats. Just because underwater habitats have re‐colonized disturbed areas recently, does not diminish their usefulness as marine life nurseries, natural filters, or any other function typical of the ecosystem. Thus, all habitats, however altered, must be evaluated in their present state and consideration given to their future potential. While numerous issues of varying degrees of importance were considered in this review, some are of greater significance and received more attention. They include: • • • • • • • • •
Erosion and the consequences to terrestrial and marine habitats. Impacts to flora and fauna caused by construction and reclamation. Impacts on rare or endangered species. Impacts on fisheries and species of commercial importance. Issues related to pests, exotic and invasive species. Long term habitat changes, particularly in marine environments. Impacts of sewage and runoff. Changes in near shore water quality. Loss of recreational space and “green” space.
The requirements in this section are covered in detail in the appendices under separate headings. Background information, as appropriate, is provided and recommendations are made when environmental issues become apparent. The results of all surveys produced the data 45
necessary to make recommendations regarding important environmental issues related to the runway extension. Recommendations offered generally follow best management practices or represent suggestions to mitigate unavoidable impacts. Either runway option will have significant environmental impacts. There are opportunities to reduce many of the impacts, while others may simply be unavoidable consequences. Since Beef Island has been inhabited for a long time, the existing environmental conditions have been continually modified by human activities. Few areas on land or the surrounding adjacent marine environments have remained unaffected. Thus, the “existing” environmental conditions must be placed in the context of heavily impacted habitats and are continually affected by human activities. The descriptions of the existing environmental conditions must be understood in relation to the history of Beef Island. It does not suggest that the impacted environments, such as the mangroves or coral reefs or sea grass community, are without value to the ecosystem. Rather, it considers the recent history of the habitats in the context of proposed runway extension plans. Since the existing environments are recently, and continually, disturbed, they may be more resilient to further changes caused by the expansion and subsequent mitigation efforts. To understand the environmental impacts caused by either runway option, it is first useful to consider the condition of the existing habitats. While they have certainly been impacted, they remain diverse, largely healthy and ecologically significant. With minimal disturbance, they can continue to function and provide valuable ecosystem services. Areas that have been degraded by anthropogenic impacts can be restored. In fact, recommendations in this IA are directed to mitigation efforts that will not only alleviate some of the negative impacts, but actually improve existing conditions in some areas. For example, the issue of water quality is of great importance. Human activity near the airport, and especially in Trellis Bay, has resulted in gradual deterioration of water quality. With reasonable implementation of mitigation recommendations, the water quality in the bay can be improved over the current conditions. The following is a brief summary of the terrestrial and marine environments in the footprint of the two runway options. A more detailed description is provided in the Appendix. Further, this summary does not describe the habitats beyond the project footprint, although there would likely be impacts there also. 46
Physical Environment The terrestrial environment in the project footprint is characterized as arid coastal scrub. There is an ecologically important salt pond in the zone immediately north and midway along the existing runway. Shorelines include mangroves, rock/rubble and sand beaches. The marine environments in the project footprint and adjacent areas are shallow with depths from the shore to 10 – 15 meters. Coastal waters are generally clear and clean, though Trellis Bay suffers from impaired water quality. Good water quality is maintained by the currents and tidal flows. The area between Trellis Bay and the Camanoes experiences strong water movement. This provides good flushing of the coast and bays. The same is true of Well Bay. Strong tidal currents flow through the narrow gap between Beef Island and Tortola. Naturally, strong currents have good potential to move sediments. Thus, the issue of sediment transport is of importance in considering the impacts of either runway option. Detailed studies, including computer modeling, of currents and sediment transport have been conducted and detailed reports are included in the Appendices. The results of those studies suggest the runway extension option should have minimal impacts on current characteristics or sediment transport in the area. Site Topography and Drainage Like most islands in this archipelago, Beef Island has been affected by extensive seismic activity and sea level changes that spanned millions of years. Tectonic forces at work for thousands of millennia, and still operating today, produced the topographic features tourists find so appealing today. The Virgin Islands are mostly steep sided with sheer cliffs along many shorelines. Beef Island is located on the eastern end of Tortola. A detailed description of the airport location and topography, with coordinates and legal description, is provided in another section of this IA. Beef Island is similar to most islands in the archipelago. Tectonic forces clearly produced the topographic features on the island. The intrusion of granitic bedrock above the surface is evident in many places. Part of the island, occupied by the airport, is flat with little relief. Much 47
of that topography has been altered by many years of agriculture and more recently by the airport construction. Since Beef Island is a relatively small land mass, and contains little relief near the airport, drainage is rapid and direct. There are no large watersheds with substantial ghuts flowing through the airport site. Historically, excess water drained towards one of the seven salt ponds on the island. There the ponds functioned as settlement basins where sediment was deposited. As part of the airport development, the land was contoured to rapidly drain water into artificial channels that direct flow away from the airport and directly to the sea or indirectly through settlement ponds or salt ponds. The “Irish Crossing” is one such channel that directs water through the salt pond at Hans Creek. More detailed site drainage descriptions were prepared for previous reports and are summarized in the appendices. Additionally, the hydrology is described in more detail in other reports in the Appendices. The site drainage for either runway extension option is not likely to be significantly different from what currently exists. There is some difference between the two options that will affect construction on land where drainage issues may become important. Both runway options consist of extensions into the marine environment. Thus, drainage will be directed and will generally flow into the sea. However, option 4 involves the re‐alignment of the runway and will include significant works on land, especially in the salt pond area north of the existing runway. That will require substantial site grading and change the current drainage patterns in the area. Option 6 will require minor site work on land. Geologic History, Geology and Soils Beef Island and most of the Virgin Island group are mountaintops on a geologic structure known as the Puerto Rican Plateau. During the latter part of the most recent ice age, about 10,000 years ago, the islands and Puerto Rico formed one huge land mass. That big island was formed by seismic activity, mainly the type of uplifting caused by massive earthquakes and movement of the Earth’s crust. Millions of years of uplifting followed by erosion, and repeated changes in sea level, formed the shapes we see today.
Historically, natural drainage along ghuts would carry sediments that would accumulate at lower elevations near the mouth. These accumulations would form alluvial deposits and plains that often continued into the coastal and marine environments. Presumably, such natural deposits contributed to the formation of the flat portions of Beef Island, especially the deposits in the vicinity of the salt ponds and coastal area. The underlying bedrock of Beef Island consists of granitic intrusions of Upper Cretaceous origin. Details of the bedrock underlying the alluvial deposits can only be postulated based on the surrounding geologic structures and outcrops. Much of the low lying areas of Beef Island now consist of land fill or Alluvium that is a mix of sediments carried down the ghuts, beach rock and marine sands of calcium carbonate composition, and possibly some mangrove peat deposits. Soils on the island are varied and depend on location and degree of development. On much of low land area, the soils are primarily a mix of eroded rock with some organic matter. Natural vegetation is restricted to coastal plants and those species tolerant of salty and arid conditions. In more developed areas, such as the airport, commercial properties and residences, land fill trucked in from Tortola contains more organic material and is better suited for plant growth. The addition of humus and potting soil is evident in many landscaped areas. There is evidence that many plant species, including some invasives, were probably introduced by accident with soils and landfill trucked to the island. The many years of human history on Beef Island have produced significant changes to the topography and soil structure, with subsequent impacts on flora and fauna. Climate and Hydrology Weather conditions during the field surveys were usually dry and sunny with prevailing trade winds blowing at five to fifteen knots. There was considerable variation though generally consistent with dry winter patterns. Air temperatures were recorded in the range of 27 – 30 degrees Celsius. Average relative humidity readings fluctuated between 68% and 93%, and probably reached 100% during the torrential downpours. Beef Island, like most of the surrounding region, experiences a tropical maritime climate. Rainfall in the area averages about 30 ‐ 40 inches per year. The island is not sufficiently large or elevated to modify the maritime climatic conditions. However, higher elevations on Tortola do 49
produce moderate orographic rainfall (approximately 60 inches per year) that affects the ridge tops and down‐wind slopes. However, Beef Island is not affected by those patterns. As small oceanic islands, the British Virgin Islands are influenced by the Northeast Trade Winds and their yearly cycle. This cycle is controlled predominantly by the annual North/South shift of the mid‐Atlantic Bermuda High. There are two annual wet and dry periods with one longer than the other. The longer wet season coincides with the local “hurricane season” (the beginning of June to the end of November) and produces most of the annual rainfall. The impact of hurricanes and tropical weather systems has entered a period of increased frequency. The following hurricanes have had significant impacts on the BVI in recent years:
Hurricane Hugo – 1989
Hurricane Luis – 1995
Hurricane Marilyn – 1995
Hurricane Bertha – 1996
Hurricane Georges – 1998
Hurricane Lenny – 1999
Hurricane Omar ‐ 2008
Hurricane Earl ‐ 2010
Numerous additional hurricanes, tropical storms and tropical depressions passed over or sufficiently near the islands to produce substantial impacts. Recent scientific assessments predict increased frequency of tropical storms as a result of expected climatic shifts and elevations of global sea level and temperature. Beef Island and the airport will be impacted by these predicted changes. Torrential rains associated with the passage of tropical waves or storms exert significant influence on coastal and marine communities. The airport is frequently affected by such conditions and they will likely continue in the future. Water quality issues resulting from these rain events must be considered and appropriate mitigation implemented. 50
Oceanography: Tides, Waves and Currents Understanding the oceanographic conditions that influence Beef Island is necessary to properly design the runway extensions and ensure the safety of lives and property. Consideration should be given not only to existing conditions, but also to expectations of increases in storm activity that may accompany the predicted climate change of the future. While such predictions of future events may be difficult to accurately assess, and are subject to vigorous debate, prudence would dictate a conservative approach in all planning along the coast. Thus, engineering studies appropriate to the potential risks should form the basis of designs for either runway option. The airport is partly sheltered from open ocean conditions by Beef Island and the nearby islands, including Great and Little Camanoe, Scrub Island and Virgin Gorda at a slightly greater distance. Prevailing winds and ocean currents in the Virgin Islands generally move from east to west. The location of the airport exposes it to the generally benign conditions typically found in Sir Francis Drake Channel. However, winter ground seas from the north can pass between Guana Island and the Camanoes and affect the north facing coast. As a low lying portion of Beef Island, the airport is vulnerable to changes in sea state. Certainly, waves and currents can exert substantial impacts on any shoreline development. Either runway extension option will involve substantial land reclamation into areas where strong currents are common. Therefore, some impact on the oceanographic processes should be expected. In particular, the question of alteration of currents and sediment transport is a major consideration. Terrestrial Environments This IA focuses on the potential impacts associated with the two options for runway extensions. Details of those two options are presented elsewhere in this report. Most of the work associated with the options will be in the marine environment where substantial reclamation will be required. However, the two options differ in the impacts on the terrestrial habitats. Option 6 consists of an extension into the marine environments on both ends of the runway. There will be minor impacts on the shoreline on the Well Bay side of the extension. Otherwise, the terrestrial impact should be negligible.
Option 4 requires a complete re‐alignment of the runway in a northeast to southwest direction. This will have significant negative consequences for the surrounding terrestrial habitats. Perhaps most significant will be the virtual elimination of the salt pond immediately north of the runway. Studies suggest this is one of the most valuable and productive wetland habitats remaining on Tortola/Beef Island. The pond is surrounded by mangroves and contains a rich and diverse aquatic ecosystem. Underwater vegetation is dominated by Ruppia and algae. There is an abundance of small invertebrates that feed on the plants. This productive wetland attracts many birds including rare ducks and waterfowl. This runway option would also impact the mangroves surrounding the pond and adjacent coastal habitats. Near the Well Bay extension, additional coastal vegetation and mangroves would be lost. There would be few opportunities to mitigate the loss of the wetlands with option 4. The loss of the pond, mangroves and coastal vegetation would be inevitable consequences of option 4. Details of the terrestrial environments are provided in several reports in the Appendices. Coastal Environments The shorelines in the vicinity of the two runway options consist of mangroves, rock and rubble shores, sand beaches, and artificial structures. The impacts on these habitats differ with the options. Option 6 will produce the least impact because it affects the least amount of shore. The extension toward Trellis Bay would affect an artificial boulder shoreline that lacks any natural characteristics. Toward Well Bay, the shore contains a mix of rock, sand, and a few mangroves. That portion of shoreline is already altered by human use, particularly a concrete boat launching ramp. Thus, there should be minimal disturbance to the shoreline ecosystem with this option. Considerably more impacts would result from the re‐alignment of the runway proposed with option 4. In the northeasterly direction, the extension would affect a mix of rock and rubble shore with some sandy beach habitat. All the coastal vegetation, along with mangroves and arid coastal scrub flora would be lost. Near Well Bay, the impact would be less, but some mangroves would be lost.
Once completed, the shorelines of either option would consist of large boulders. There would be little relief in topography or opportunity to re‐establish sand beaches or other shoreline habitats. However, with further study, there may be a few sites, such as along part of the Well Bay extension, where mangroves might be planted, or where native shoreline plants could be re‐introduced. Marine Environments The greatest impacts of either runway extension will occur in the marine environments. The footprint of the construction will be most significant underwater. Since the runway extensions will involve substantial reclamation to create the necessary land, the loss of all habitats in the project footprint is unavoidable. Mitigation opportunities in the project footprint will be limited. The underwater habitats in the impact zone are coral reefs, sea grass beds and sand plains. There is some variation is these habitats. For example, the coral reefs range from healthy areas of hard coral reef to scattered rocks functioning as patch reefs. Some reefs consist more of sea fans, gorgonians, and other soft corals. Typically, reefs are bordered by bare sand areas, or “halos”, where vegetation has been removed by reef herbivores. With distance from the reefs these sand plains become progressively vegetated by calcareous green algae, red and brown algae, and sparse sea grasses. Depending on physical conditions of the site, sea grass habitats become denser and species compositions gradually change. In areas of sparse grasses, Syringodium tends to be common. Where conditions are optimal for sea grasses, Thalassia will grow into thick, dense ‘meadows’ that can extend many meters in all directions. These, in turn, support a diverse fauna of invertebrates, fish, and marine turtles. The largest underwater areas that will be impacted by the extensions are to the north and east of the existing runway. Option 6 extends the current runway toward the east near Sprat point. This area is immediately north of Trellis Bay and is impacted by activities within the bay. Option 4 takes a more northerly direction, covering much of Conch Bay toward Great Camanoe these underwater habitats function as an interconnected ecosystem. It is very well understood that coral reefs and sea grass communities interact and the fauna often spend parts of their life cycle in one habitat and then move to another. Thus, both habitats must remain intact for the ecosystem to function properly. Despite the variety of habitats in the impact zone, all are equally important to the overall environment. Throughout the footprint of both options, sea 53
grasses cover the largest area of substrate. However, area of coverage and ecological importance are not necessarily related. To the north of the runway, Conch Bay contains a mix of sandy, rubble habitat with varying degrees of sea grass density. Coral reefs and rock patches are also present. Species lists of flora and fauna in all the habitats are included in the appendices. The Environmental Report also contains descriptions of endangered species identified and discussion of species of economic importance. In Well Bay, there is a relatively narrow zone of bedrock outcrops and rubble near shore. That gradually changes from rubble to sand plains with algal clumps. Further from shore, toward the channel, sparse sea grass habitat becomes dense and eventually is dominated by uniform Thalassia with the associated fauna. Slightly south of the shore, there is an underwater rocky area with rock outcrops and rubble. Hard and soft corals are common in the vicinity. The invasive Lionfish was noted on numerous surveys on the site. Close to shore the direct footprint includes rubble and sand habitats with mangroves on land. Both option 4 and 6 will impact sea grass habitat more than any other. Beyond the immediate footprint of the runway extension options, habitats are similar, though with considerable variability. The habitats are affected by numerous physical parameters. Currents are probably the most important. In some areas, such as the cuts between Guana Island and Tortola, or between Great and Little Camanoe, scouring of the seabed is evident. In general, all marine habitats in the direct and indirect impact zone may be considered healthy, though heavily affected by human activity. Surveys in and near Trellis Bay yielded significant quantities of trash and debris. The reef at Conch Bay also contained an abundance of trash. Boat parts and sections of hulls were conspicuous in rocky areas, especially reefs. Old tires, ropes, plastic bottles, cans, and miscellaneous items were abundant. Lost, or ‘ghost’, fish traps were also common. Evidence of overfishing, anchor damage to the seabed, chemical pollution and other anthropogenic impacts are present throughout all the habitats. Despite these previous impacts, the marine communities contain an abundant and diverse flora and fauna. While the runway extension options will add additional environmental impacts to the habitats, effective mitigation and good environmental management in the future could produce significant improvements in the health and productivity of the marine ecosystem. Certainly there will be 54
loss of habitat as a result of either extension option. However, reduction in the discharge of pollutants, including waste water, should improve water quality. Effective enforced fishery regulations may restore populations of many commercially valuable species. That would have beneficial impacts on the health of all habitats. Additional environmental initiatives to reduce trash dumping in the sea, reduction of storm water runoff, reduced anchor damage to the seabed, and others would further improve the marine environment. Clearly, this runway extension will impact the environment. If sufficient mitigation and good management become effective, then the impact of this project could be decreased and the environment could remain healthy. The socio‐economic and cultural conditions surrounding this project are complex. There are many stakeholders with an interest in the outcome of this project. As expected, there is diversity of opinion regarding the value of such an undertaking. Reactions are often related to the stakeholder’s proximity to the impact zone and the economic or social implication to them personally. Many who reside near the airport, in Trellis Bay or on Beef Island, are skeptical or I opposition to the project. Others who see personal benefits or general benefits to the Territory are guardedly optimistic or strongly in favor of the extension. The bulk of the socio‐economic assessment is presented in the Appendix and covers these topics, and others, in considerable detail.
5.3 Socio‐Cultural & Socio‐Economic Conditions The Development Planning Unit estimates that the BVI population is currently 30,755 of which 83% reside in Tortola from 2012. Tortola’s population is expected to grow by 26% by the year 2030. The majority of the population comprises non‐nationals. Population by Island – 1991‐2030 Islands Tortola Virgin Gorda Anegada Jost Van Dyke Other Islands/Yachts Total
1991 13,233 2,437 162 140 144
2001 19,282 3,203 250 244 182
2009 24,045 3,994 312 304 227
2012 25,604 4,253 332 324 241
2015 27,221 4,522 353 344 257
2020 29,860 4,960 387 378 282
2025 32,278 5,362 418 408 305
2030 34,521 5,734 448 437 326
Source: Development Planning Unit The Territory has high literacy and life expectancy rates, and low poverty and employment rates, as shown in the table below. Social Development Indicators Indicator Population below the poverty line Adult Functional Literacy Rate ‐Male ‐Female Life Expectancy at Birth (years) ‐ Male ‐Female Total Unemployment Rate
% of the Population 17.7% 97.8% 98.7% 72.9% 74.8% 3.6%
Source: The Louis Berger Group, 2011 Nature of the BVI Economy The largest contributor to the GDP is Real Estate accounting for 30% of the total followed by Hotels/Restaurants, Wholesale/Retail and Transportation/Communication which, together, account for 38%. 56
Sectoral Distribution of Current GDP Sectoral Distribution of GDP (%) Agriculture, Hunting, Forestry Fishing Mining & Quarrying Manufacturing Electricity, Gas, Water Construction Wholesale & Retail Trade Hotel & Restaurant Transport and Communications Financial Intermediation Real Estate, Renting & Business Activity Government Services Education Health & Social Work Other Community, Social &Personal Services Taxes on Products Less: FISIM GDP (at current market prices US $ 000 Annual Rate of Growth Actual Change
2001re 0.50 0.66 0.04 3.35 1.64 9.56 13.47 15.38 11.87 5.09 27.74
2003re 0.57 0.76 0.05 3.81 2.04 6.91 13.38 14.17 11.37 5.42 28.82
2005e 0.47 0.62 0.04 3.13 1.94 6.89 13.88 15.13 11.97 5.27 29.29
2007e 0.41 0.53 0.04 2.70 1.85 7.76 13.62 14.23 11.50 6.13 29.50
2009e 0.47 0.61 0.04 3.10 2.23 7.16 13.16 13.44 10.99 4.36 28.91
2011e 0.45 0.59 0.04 2.97 2.38 5.81 13.54 13.53 11.18 5.69 30.13
5.52 2.20 1.52 2.69
6.46 2.57 1.78 3.06
5.93 2.36 1.64 2.51
6.68 2.66 1.85 2.16
7.80 3.11 2.15 2.49
7.52 3.00 2.08 2.39
2.97 (4.22) 100 810,096
3.36 (4.53) 100 711,622
3.39 (4.45) 100 870,033
3.58 (5.21) 100 1,010,870
3.71 (3.74) 100 876,811
3.64 (4.92) 100 915,592
(9.49) 16.61 8.11 (74,606) 123,915 75,828
(11.60) 2.37 (115,045) 21,155
The BVI has a high GDP per capita whose estimate by the Development Planning Unit for 2011 was $30,326. Selected Per Capita Indicators Population GDP Per Capita Consumer Spending Per Capita Gross National Income Per Capita
2001e 23,161 34,977 13,991 32,522
2003e 24,432 29,127 11,241 26,609
2005e 25,940 33,540 12,577 30,988
2007e 27,518 36,735 13,466 34,160
2009e 28,882 30,358 10,934 27,743
2011e 30,192 30,326 10,587 27,669
Patterns of Employment Employment has increased steadily with an average annual growth rate of 5.4%. Growth has been strongest in Transport and Communication, followed by Financial Intermediation industries. Distribution of Employment by Industry Sectoral Distribution of GDP (%) Agriculture, Hunting, Forestry Fishing Mining & Quarrying Manufacturing Electricity, Gas, Water Construction Wholesale & Retail Trade Hotel & Restaurant Transport and Communications Financial Intermediation Real Estate, Renting & Business Activity Government Services Education Health & Social Work Other Community, Social &Personal Services Private Households with Employed Persons Extra‐territorial organizations and bodies Not Stated Total
19 12 35 340 0 1209 1747 3133 636
28 7 27 357 0 1251 1781 3122 652
43 12 24 409 0 1332 2074 3316 693
64 12 21 474 0 1635 2212 3587 641
73 13 24 475 0 1810 2207 3534 662
67 18 24 470 0 1559 2279 3530 658
4533 156 101 359
4772 201 107 381
5150 239 116 475
5495 332 160 527
5734 355 141 576
5721 367 146 560
The public sector employs about one‐third of the labor force. The Hotels and Restaurants sub‐ sector of the industry is the largest source of employment in the private sector, but has the lowest growth rate.
Tourism and Economic Development Tourism is the mainstay of the BVI economy, contributing 30% of the GDP. Tourism Gross Domestic Product at Current Prices GDP at current market price Tourism GDP at Current Basic Prices (US$’000) Tourism GDP/GDP (%) Growth in Tourism GDP (%)
2001e 810,096 242,479
2003e 711,622 209,422
2005e 870,033 262,599
2007e 2009e 1,010,870 876,811 309,877 264,875
2011e 915,592 277,893
Within the hospitality industry, the demand for charter boats is much higher than the demand for hotels, as the BVI is renowned for its beautiful sailing conditions – pristine waters, perfect wind, sheltered channel, archipelago of islands, and so forth. The year 2009 showed a decrease in the number of overnight visitors across the five types of accommodations below, which began to increase in 2011. Overnight Visitors by Place of Stay Type of Overnight Visitors Year Hotel Charter boat 2001 74,399 180,838 2003 61,148 213,862 2005 102,611 171,502 2007 108,978 182,144 2009 93,985 157,084 2011 102,732 171,704
Rentals 19,927 23,772 33,851 35,952 31,005 33,891
Own 156 75 282 300 259 302
Friend 21,603 21,600 28,889 30,682 26,460 28,923
Total 296,922 320,458 337,135 358,056 308,793 337,551
Most visitors come to the BVI by sea, even when cruise ships are excluded. There has been a dramatic increase in the number of passengers coming through St. Thomas primarily because of the lower airfare and accessibility to the BVI. 59
Visitor Arrivals by Air and Sea Year 2001 2003 2005 2007 2009 2010
Visitor Arrivals By Air 144,425 390,686 158,407 147,449 104,729 109,076
Total 535,111 657,505 820,767 948,425 856,864 842,497
By Sea 153,391 504,114 662,360 800,976 725,135 733,421
The cruise ship industry has also seen a dramatic increase in the number of passengers since 2001. From all indications, this upward trend will continue, as there are plans underway to lengthen the cruise ship dock and develop the contiguous land side facilities. Types of Visits Year
Overnight Visitors Day Trippers
2001 2003 2005 2007 2009 2010
296,922 320,458 337,135 358,056 308,793 330,343
35,672 36,621 34,480 15,158 17,744 10,703
Cruise Ship Passengers 202,517 300,426 449,152 575,211 530,327 501,451
Total 535,111 657,505 820,767 948,425 856,864 842,497
Beef Island Airport According to the LBG report, there were 6,889 aircraft operations in 2006, with an average of 574 operations per month. The airport is used for commercial and private operations. According to the LBG report, commercial operations comprise 40% of the total air traffic at the airport, general aviation activity 59.6%, and air cargo 0.4%. The airport site ‐‐ which is approximately 136 acres and includes the airfield, related facilities, and surrounding area ‐‐ is enclosed by a perimeter fence. The LBG report also states that the runway has a parallel taxiway that is 2,000 feet in length with three right angle connectors. A partial taxiway holds departing aircrafts while others are landing. The apron is made up of two areas for commercial and business aviation and can accommodate up to eight Dash 8‐type aircrafts and 14 small aircrafts. It is also used for overnight aircraft parking. Aircrafts are refueled by trucks. The maintenance area, which has 60
four hangars for General Aviation aircrafts, is connected to the main apron by a short taxiway. Aircrafts follow Visual Flight Rules (VFR) when approaching the airport. Edge lighting along the runway permits night operations. The table shows that most of the air traffic to the BVI goes to the Beef Island Airport, the plurality of which comes from Puerto Rico, and makes it the most suitable choice of the three BVI airports for runway expansion. Aircraft Arrivals to BVI Airports in 2011 Total Scheduled Service Charter Service
Points of Arrivals Embarkation Beef Island No Pax Pax Down Island 92 1,469 USVI 63 727 Puerto Rico 383 4,387 Total 490 5,080 Down Island 362 345 USVI 417 176 Puerto Rico 341 226 Other 159 92 Total 1,089 723 Down Island 449 151 USVI 482 65 Puerto Rico 718 145 Other 428 366 Total 1,636 721 Down Island 903 1,965 USVI 962 968 Puerto Rico 1,442 4,758 Other 587 458 Total 3,894 8,149
Virgin Gorda No Pax Pax 1 7 ‐ 1 2 8 1 7 28 121 131 442 16 237 12 77 163 730 4 8 2 9 4 3 2 5 8 22 33 136 133 452 22 248 14 82 202 918
Anegada No Pax Pax ‐ ‐ ‐ ‐ 6 24 2 4 28 ‐ ‐ ‐ ‐ ‐ 6 24 2 4 36
‐ ‐ ‐ ‐ 2 26 11 2 37 1 2 1 1 3 3 28 12 3 46
Total No Pax 93 63 385 491 396 572 359 175 1,280 453 484 722 430 1,644 942 1,119 1,466 605 4,132
Pax 1,476 728 4,395 5,087 468 644 474 171 1,490 160 76 149 372 746 2,104 1,448 5,018 543 9,113
Source: Development Planning Unit, Government of the British Virgin Islands
Table 23 in the Socio Economic appendix shows that most visitors to the Territory – Day Trippers and Overnight Visitors – arrive by boat. Of the 8,946 Day Trippers who visited the Territory in 2011, 62% came by sea. Of the 337,773 overnight visitors – those who stayed in hotels, on charter boats, rented accommodations, own residence, or friend’s residence ‐‐ 73% arrived by sea compared to 27% who arrived by air. 61
Airlines There are currently eight airlines operating at TBLIA: Three 9‐seat private charter airlines, two 9‐seat scheduled commercial airlines, and three larger scheduled commercial airlines Scheduled commercial flights go to San Juan, St. Thomas, and the Caribbean. Scheduled Commercial Airlines and Private Charters Operating from TBLIA Private Charter (9 Seats) VI Airlink Island Birds
Commercial Schedule (9 Seats) Cape Air 8 flights/day to San Juan Air Sunshine 4 flights/day to San Juan 4 flights/day to St. Thomas
(More than 9 Seats) BVI Airways American Eagle 4 flights/day to San Juan LIAT 3 flights/day M‐Th, Sat and Sun to the Caribbean 6 flights on Friday to the Caribbean
Noise Pollution Aircraft noise and the impact on communities under or adjacent to the flight path are of environmental concern. As air traffic grows with runway expansions, new areas are exposed to aircraft noise. Currently the aviation navigational aid at TBLIA is a non‐directional (radio) beacon situated at Mansion Hall that is used to guide aircrafts within or above the clouds to a level below the clouds where they can safely proceed with their approach using visual cues – hazard lights, runway lights, and ground markers ‐‐ to align the aircraft with the runway. Residents of Hodge’s Creek – where the terrain is hilly ‐‐ report that pilots do not follow the designated flight path commensurate with the noise abatement protocol; rather, they fly the path that they are most comfortable with which, invariably, is over Hodge’s Creek. They indicated that they report these violations to the BVI Airports Authority, but do not get clear information back regarding corrective measures and disciplinary action.
Trellis Bay is located within walking distance to the east of the airport and is rimmed by a crescent‐shaped sandy coastline stretching about 1.55km from the Government dock to Sprat Point. Trellis Bay is a hub of economic activity on Beef Island, the driver of which is its use as a popular anchorage for stopover and overnight chartered and private yachts. It is also considered a hurricane shelter for yachts. Recreational activities that take place in the Bay include windsurfing, snorkeling, diving, swimming, and water skiing. Within a section of the bay is a mooring system. An April 2012 survey of the moorings at Trellis Bay by the Survey Department shows that there are 35 registered moorings and 37 unregistered moorings. 63
Moorings at Trellis Bay Registered Owners Trish Bailey Ben Bamford Timothy Penn Total
Registered Moorings 2 12 21 35
Unregistered Moorings 37 37
Survey of Moorings at Trellis Bay Source: Survey Department Registered and Unregistered Moorings are shown in table below. Because Trellis Bay is also the closest transit point for travelers to and from Virgin Gorda and the northern cays, workers, residents and visitors are ferried back and forth on a regular basis.
Single‐storey buildings house a few small but varied shops which are located in a linear fashion along the shoreline. Much of the land bordering Trellis Bay is privately owned. That which is owned by the Crown has several facilities: • • • • • • • •
A public pier used by fishermen and ferries A barge ramp A small gift shop – Many Splendid Tings A small grocery store with other ancillary services ‐ Trellis Bay Market A ferry office – North Sound Express Two piers and a dock A solid waste facility Undefined parking area
Most of the privately‐owned land is undeveloped, except for the following beach front facilities: • • • • • • •
A coffee shop – Virgin Island Café A clothing boutique – HiHo A cyber shop – Cyber Café A board sailing shop ‐ Boardsailing BVI An art studio – Aragorns Studio A small guest house and restaurant – de Loose Mongoose Parking lots
Despite its close proximity to the airport, Trellis Bay offers a tranquil and serene atmosphere. The spectacular views of Scrub Island and Marina Cay against the backdrop of the undeveloped hillside of Beef Island contribute to the sought‐after charm of the Bay. Sea Port Facilities The Bay has several piers that are used by several boat operators. The Government pier is used by boat operators from Virgin Gorda and other sister islands, dinghy operators, light cargo vessels and fishermen, but is too high for dinghies and tenders to berth. Adjacent to the government pier is barge ramp. The other piers in the Bay are privately owned wooden piers, with seabed leases from the Government. The wooden pier by the Trellis Bay Market is in serious disrepair and is not safe for use. Solid Waste Facilities Two solid waste receptacles are located at the northern end of the Bay, and are operated by the Solid Waste Department. Bellamy Cay In the center of the Bay is Bellamy Cay, a tiny island surrounded by a coral rock formation. The Last Resort restaurant is located in the center of the island and is a popular dining attraction for the yachting community. The owners of the restaurant lease the Cay. One of the Trellis Bay 66
piers belongs to the restaurant owners and, for a fee, is also used by Little Dix Bay Resort and Spa among others. The restaurant also owns 12 of the mooring buoys in the Bay for which it collects a usage fee. Marina Cay Marina Cay is a small island surrounded by Beef Island, Great Camanoe, Little Camanoe, and Scrub Island. It provides a myriad of services for yachtsmen including mooring buoys in the protected area behind the island and reef, fuel, ice, water, showers, laundry facility, trash facility, dinghy and ferry dock. Marina Cay also has cottages, Pusser’s Porch restaurant, Pusser’s Company store, etc. and is a popular area for snorkeling. Scrub Island Resort, Marina and Spa Scrub Island accommodations include rooms, suites and villas. Its large marina also accommodates mega yachts. It has two restaurants, a fitness center, dive shop, gourmet market, and café and boutique. The Camanoes The Camanoes are located to the north of Beef Island. Little Camanoe is a small uninhabited island and a popular stop for yachtsmen and snorkelers. Great Camanoe is developed on one end with several residential homes and villas owned mostly by expatriates. The northeastern part of the island remains undeveloped and in its pristine state. Little Mountain Little Mountain is a residential hill top overlooking the airport and the Caribbean Sea from its southern side and the Atlantic Ocean from the northern side. There are a number of rental villas as well. Little Mountain is within walking distance to Long Bay Beach, which is used mostly by local residents. Surfsong Villa Resort This secluded beach front villa resort is located in Well Bay on the southern side of Beef Island and minutes away from Trellis Bay. Guests can choose from 6 one or two bedroom villas or reserve the entire resort for up to 22 guests. 67
Dawson’s Villas This villa compound is adjacent to Surfsong in Well Bay. Guests can rent any or all of the five villas. Fisherman A Conservation and Fisheries official reports that while there is no commercial fishing in the bay ‐‐ or organized fishing expeditions ‐‐ individual fisherman fish the waters surrounding the Bay and also procure whelks and conch. Access The paved public road provides access to the Bay. Within the Bay, a walk along the sandy area immediately in front of the shops provides easy access to all of the shops and seaport facilities
6. Assessment of Environmental Impacts & Mitigating Measures There are two options considered for the runway extension. They differ significantly in the ecological and socio‐economic impacts they will have. Option 4 consists of a realignment of the runway. Thus, it will have a much larger footprint, both on land and in the sea. This option will eliminate the existing runway salt pond, have greater impacts on offshore coral reefs and cover much more of the seabed. In addition, it will extend further into an area of strong currents and tidal flows, producing greater potential for effects on oceanographic conditions. However, it will be further from Trellis Bay, thus reducing the potential impact on water quality. It will also produce less impact on the community in the bay. Option 6 is just an extension of the existing runway on both ends. The ecological impacts should be considerably less. However, the extension north of Trellis Bay will terminate near Sprat Point. That will create a barrier to the north of the bay considerably reducing water flow and flushing. That will likely impact the water quality in the bay. Further, the restriction of the entrance to the bay will force all vessels to enter and leave through the same narrow opening at Sprat Point. That will create some challenges to maintain orderly navigation in the area. Based on the socio‐economic assessment, the impacts on the community in the bay are perceived as largely negative. While option 6 is considered to produce more negative impacts on Trellis Bay, a benefit would be to create a more sheltered anchorage during times of storms. The impacts on Well Bay would be similar for both options, though option 4 would extend further south and potentially affect the Well Bay beach to a greater extent. Both options would cover portions of the seabed that contain corals and sea grasses. The predictions of impacts for different aspects of the project are described in much detail in specific reports contained in the Appendices. Both options will produce significant impacts on the environment and on the society. Some impacts can be mitigated, either directly or indirectly, while others must be accepted as a consequence of development and growth of the Territory.
Loss of marine habitats can be partially, and indirectly, mitigated. Habitats in the footprint of the runway extensions will be eliminated. While it may be possible to relocate a few corals and some sea grasses, such measures are not likely to produce worthwhile results, except in limited circumstances. However, that does not preclude some efforts in habitat rehabilitation at the site or in other areas. Additional mitigation could be considered following the approach used in the concept of “mitigation banking” employed elsewhere. Briefly, that concept suggests that where successful mitigation at a development site is not possible, or practical, mitigation could take the form of restoration in other more distant areas. Or, perhaps setting a monetary value for the loss, ecological or social, and then applying that figure to environmental education or conservation efforts somewhere else. The impact on water quality in Trellis Bay can be addressed several ways. Various possibilities are presented in the computer modeling for the oceanographic impacts. The options considered include culverts or bridges under the runway extension, widening and reconfiguring the Sprat Point area and headland, and various other ideas. Additional options to improve water quality may involve reducing the sources of the pollutants. For example, the waste water treatment plant at the airport could be expanded to include all developments at Trellis Bay. Rather than using septic tanks that leach semi‐treated water into the bay, all waste could be treated and reused for irrigation and other uses. Storm water that currently drains into the bay could be diverted to a more distant location. A pump out station could be provided for the yachts to reduce that source of waste. Such measures could do much to improve water quality. The socio‐economic measures are complex and will likely be reduced to a case by case assessment of impact and mitigation necessary. The affected stakeholders vary greatly in the degree to which they are affected. In some cases the airport expansion will be seen as a benefit, not as a liability. Obviously, in such cases no mitigation will be required. It may be that some individuals or businesses will deserve some level of compensation, financial or otherwise. These must be individually assessed at the time of compensation. A full anlaysis of the socio economic effects is contained within the appendix section of this report. 70
6.1. Prediction of Potential Environmental Impacts and Benefits The perimeter of the airport requires a stone revetment structure for both options to protect the area from scour and loss of material due to wave and current forces. The existing airport is protected by a stone revetment system. The proposed revetment section presented herein is similar to the existing structure with some minor changes. The proposed airport expansion construction requires about 9650 lf and 7200 lf of revetment structure to support Option #4 and Option #6, respectively. A typical section of the revetment section is provided below to demonstrate the likely extent of construction on the seabed.
The revetment structure can be used to help control turbidity and sedimentation during the fill placement. Constructing the revetment before placing the sand backfill in the runway area will create a natural barrier to fill against and should allow a more controlled backfilling operation. The revetment stone (especially the inner core and geotextile fabric) will provide filtering as water passes through the structure. If it is necessary to keep an area open to accommodate the backfilling (needed if a dump bottom barge is being used to place fill) floating booms can be used across the opening. This approach should be effective to control the release of suspended sediment into the adjacent waterway. The following possible impacts have been identified as requiring consideration. Additional comments are offered. Changes in Land Use. Clearly any development will change the environment. The runway extension will alter existing uses of the area. While the changes will differ according to the option selected, Option 4 will most likely produce the greatest changes in existing land use. Compatibility of Land Use. The airport already exists so the proposed runway extension would be compatible with the existing airport. However, there are compatibility questions with other nearby uses. The land uses at Trellis Bay would be substantially affected, particularly with option 6. The degree to which the compatibility will be affected is considered in detail in this IA. The greatest question of compatibility will involve the social issues in the bay. Loss of unique physical features and loss or creation of open space. Option 4 would result in the loss of the runway salt pond. Given the significant ecological value of that pond, its loss would be a negative impact. The extension toward Trellis Bay by option 6 would entail the loss of open space used for recreation and vessel transit. The loss would be considered negative by the users of that space. The same could be argued for the loss of fishing areas. In the Well Bay vicinity, the extension of the runway, especially by option 4, would impact the users of the beach. It would also restrict access to the beach. Certainly, users of that beach would consider it a loss of their open space and detract from the physical features of the site. Intrusion into sensitive visual landscapes or improvement of landscape quality. Some individuals will consider any further development of the airport to be an intrusion into a sensitive landscape. Whether or not the landscape quality is improved will be a matter of personal opinion. Certainly, a new runway extending into the sea would alter the visual 72
landscape. The airport and much of Trellis Bay is a developed area. The existing visual landscape in the bay is one of sailboat masts, docks and shoreside facilities. It would be reasonable to consider the extension of the runway to Sprat Point and altering the view of islands and seascapes an intrusion into the visual landscape. The question will be whether or not the change in the visual landscape is worth the benefits from the expansion. Risk of erosion. Erosion on land is a very real risk and one of the more serious environmental issues related to this project. Care must be taken to prevent any land based sediments from entering the sea. Techniques to accomplish the task are readily available and part of best management practices. The reclamation of the seabed should proceed with adequate safeguards to prevent loss of sediments beyond the immediate footprint of the project. Silt curtains and other techniques can be used to accomplish the goal. The erosion risk would be greater with option 4 than option 6. Option 4 will require significant topographic alteration of the land. Such site work adjacent to the coast increases risk of erosion and requires mitigation. Modification of coastal processes and coastal stability. This issue is relevant to this project. Both options involve considerable reclamation of the seabed with potential impacts on coastal processes. There are risks of modifications on both the Trellis Bay and Well Bay extensions. The concerns include possible alterations of localized currents that may change sediment transport and deposition characteristics. For example, the runway extension toward Trellis Bay could impacts currents so that parts of Trellis Bay, or even more distant locations like Long Bay, may be affected. The result could be erosion and scouring of portions of the seabed or shore. Alternatively, changes to currents could result in sand deposition in new areas or increased deposition in existing areas. That could impact vessel navigation and require future dredging or other maintenance. Similar questions would apply to the Well Bay area where strong currents are influenced by tides. Computer models included in this IA, and described in detail in the Appendix, suggest such problems are unlikely to be serious. Changes in drainage patterns. There should be minimal changes in drainage patterns on the airport grounds from either option. There will be increases in land area that will increase quantities of runoff, but the pattern should remain nearly the same. Storm water retention areas and discharge locations will be recommended to minimize negative impacts. Rain water capture and retention should be incorporated into the runway design wherever practical. Recommendations include the adoption of site specific best management practices to prevent
the loss of sediments or pollutants into the sea. Stormwater runoff should be diverted away from Trellis Bay to reduce the negative impact on water quality. Changes in surface and ground water quality. Water quality issues will emerge at the airport just like any developed area. Runoff from surfaced roads (runways) and parking areas can contain oil, fuel and other contaminants. There are numerous ways this can be mitigated. Using clean technologies, and careful site planning, should reduce risk of ground water contamination. Mechanisms to capture the first inch of surface runoff should be adopted to lessen discharge of pollutants into nearby coastal environments. Any other sources of contaminants that may enter the surface waters should be minimized to maintain good water quality. Changes in marine water quality. All land based pollutants should be controlled and prevented from entering the marine environment. Stormwater runoff from the airport should be collected and treated before discharge to the sea. Boats using Trellis Bay should follow good environmental practices. This includes use of holding tanks for sewage and not discharging other pollutants into the coastal environment. Maintaining good water flow through the bay will be necessary to maintain water quality. All activities at the airport should be carefully monitored and managed to prevent water quality deterioration. Unfortunately, many factors beyond the control of Airport Authority presently impact the surrounding marine water quality. Modification of oceanographic conditions. Computer modeling associated with this IA suggest minimal modification of coastal oceanographic conditions. The impact of either runway option on currents and sediment transport or deposition is predicted to be insignificant. However, impacts on water quality, especially in Trellis Bay, may be subject to significant variation. Depending on the option selected, the design mitigation strategies adopted, and the management plan implemented, there could be large differences in resulting water quality in the bay. Air pollution. Air pollution is not expected to be a significant issue at the airport as a result of the runway extension. The only sources of air pollution would be those normally associated with airport operations and construction activities. Presumably these will be temporary and within an acceptable range. Dust may be a problem during some construction, particularly during site work. Best management practices should be followed to minimize and control dust. 74
Careful scheduling of activities that may generate dust or excessive noise will reduce the annoyance to the public. The rapid dispersal of pollutants by the ever present trade winds should minimize any local impact. Nevertheless, care should be exercised during construction and long‐term operations to minimize discharge of any contaminants into the air. Changes in terrestrial species, populations, and habitats of flora and fauna. The impacts on terrestrial flora and fauna will vary depending on the option selected. Option 4 will eliminate the salt pond and significantly alter adjacent terrestrial environments. Little useful mitigation would be possible. Option 6 would minimally impact the salt pond and nearby terrestrial habitats. Creation of new habitat. New habitat would be created along the rock slope of the new runway. The large boulders along the shore would create new substrate for encrusting marine organisms. That would include algae, sponges, corals, worms, tunicates and other marine life. Those creatures would attract mobile invertebrates, such as urchins, starfish, crabs, lobster and more. Of course, fish would find refuge and food among the rock boulders. However, the new habitat would come at a loss of existing underwater habitats. Loss of rare plant or animal species and introduction of exotic species. The loss of the salt pond, with option 4, would negatively impact rare wetland species, both plants and animals. Additional rare terrestrial flora and fauna may be lost in adjacent habitats. Certainly the loss of mangroves and the associated fauna would be negative. The introduction of exotic species is always a risk with development. Such introductions are often inadvertent and a consequence of human activity. In the marine environment, there is risk of loss of rare species, like Acropora corals, conch, and others. There are limited opportunities for mitigation for the loss of rare species with either option. Impacts due to visitor access to sensitive areas. Here should be minimal issues related to increased visitor access to sensitive areas. There are not likely to be problems in the terrestrial environments. However, increases in visitor numbers may have detrimental effects in the marine environment. Improving access to sensitive coral reefs, especially in shallow areas, will usually increase damage and injury to the habitat. Increased disease risk to corals is one of the possible outcomes.
Impacts resulting from measures to deal with problems of insect pests. This will become a management issue for the future. All pest control measures must consider safety of humans and the environment. Such measures are well established and vary according to the target species and the environmental sensitivity of the site. As a developed site, the airport (and surrounding Trellis Bay) already deals with insect pests and will continue to do so in the future. Changes in coastal and marine species and habitats. The runway extension options both involve considerable reclamation of the seabed. The size of the extension will result in the loss of considerable habitat. This is unavoidable and a consequence of development. While everything in the footprint of the runway extension will be lost (except for what may be relocated) the underwater habitats are widespread and much more exists beyond the direct impact zone. Coastal mangroves in the Well Bay area will also be affected. Impacts on fish nurseries and traditional fishing grounds. There has been traditional fishing in the offshore waters around the airport and all of Tortola. The area is overfished. Any activity that might reduce fishing pressure without harming the marine environment would be a good thing. The marine surveys discovered nursery habitat for juvenile reef fish and invertebrates of commercial importance. Thus, there will be loss of such habitat with either option. However, some mitigation is possible. Such options will be site specific and depend on the runway option selected and various parameters involving actual construction. Habitat creation and improvement could offset some of the losses. Demands on infrastructure facilities in relation to existing capacities. The basic infrastructure existing at the present time appears to be adequate for the current demand. Roads, parking, and utilities seem sufficient to meet the demand. Since the economy is dependent on tourism that fluctuates seasonally, demands for infrastructure and services will fluctuate accordingly. At present, the capacity appears adequate. Demands on infrastructure facilities in relation to proposed improvements. The expansion of the runway is expected to generate additional activity that will require additional services and support. Such growth and expansion will stimulate the economy and create the kind of climate desired by government. Increases in tourist arrivals in large jets will be pulsed. Thus, there will be sudden, and temporary, increases in demands for infrastructure and services. Details are provided in the social assessment in the Appendix.
The risk of occurrence of potential hazards as a result of development. Increased risks to hazards often accompany increased human use. There are no expected hazards associated with this project that differ substantially with any other similar project in a similar location. Natural risks might include hurricanes and earthquakes. Certainly, storm flooding and tsunamis are a risk in low lying areas. Man‐made hazards might include fire, construction accidents, and numerous others typically associated with airport developments. They are a recognized part of life by most people. However, safety precautions and first aid or provision for appropriate assistance should be a part of the operations at the airport. Such plans and provisions already exist and are part of required airport procedures. A Hazard and Vulnerability Assessment and an Emergency Response and Contingency Plan are referenced in the Appendix. Coastal Model Any coastal modeling project begins by simulating the existing conditions. This allows the scientists and engineers to get a feel for the validity of the models. In other words, before the model can be trusted, it must show that it produces results that match what is going on in the real world. In addition to the existing conditions, a model can be used to predict how adjustments to the system impact the system. For this project, several proposals were considered as alternatives for the airport modifications. From these alternatives, two candidates (option 4 and option 6) were chosen for more in depth review. These were included in the modeling study.
Option 4 Runway Alignment
Option 6 Runway Alignment As the review process has progressed, the advantages of option 6 have made it the front runner from some perspectives, however, it was observed that this option significantly impacted the opening of Trellis Bay, and therefore, could significantly impact the circulation in that bay. In anticipation of the need for more circulation, two local modifications for option 6 were also 78
included in the numerical modeling study. These included the addition of a canal through the island and the removal of a section of Sprat Point from the East side of Trellis Bay. This resulted in five alternatives to be considered in the numerical modeling study. Trellis Bay Flushing Impacts The 2 proposed runway alternates have been studied to determine the anticipated impacts on Trellis Bay. This location was studied in more detail because of the impacts the runway expansion, especially associated with Option 6, will have on reducing the existing bay opening and the resulting flushing impacts. Option 4 at 7,000 ft is not expected to significantly affect the flow of water and currents in Trellis Bay. However, Option 6 at 7,000 ft reduces the opening into Trellis Bay to about 475 ft. Option 6 is considered to have impacts on the ability of water to flow in and out of Trellis Bay, therefore, impacting flushing. If the area cannot flush properly it could result in future water quality issues within Trellis Bay. There will be a noted change in the circulation of Trellis Bay. The flow trace animations of all of the modified options bear this out in a qualitative sense. The following image shows a snapshot of the flowtrace of Trellis Bay for Option 6. The speckles inside Trellis Bay indicate relatively stagnant water inside the bay. This is true throughout the tidal cycle. The quantitative comparison at sample points inside Trellis Bay also bears this out. The graph below shows the velocity in the horizontal direction for a typical point inside the bay. The other sample points show similar plots. The yellow curve represents the higher velocity associated with this point in the bay for existing conditions. The other four curves show the marked reduction in velocity. The canal option does show some improvement compared to option 6 by itself or the option to remove Sprat Point.
Flowtrace of Trellis Bay with Option 6.
Velocity at point 139, typical of results for points inside of Trellis Bay. 80
Changes In The Sediment Budget – Movement of Sand The analysis reveals that Trellis Bay will be depositional in terms of sediment transport potential under all of the proposed development schemes. There is some minor potential for sediment movement at the eastern end near Sprat Point, especially if a portion of the point is removed. There is also a potential for sediment to move around and redeposit near the government dock and at Bellamy Cay (the Last Resort) if there is a canal from Well Bay. This movement will be in one direction only rather than a typical orbital movement based on tides. This potential is very modest since the existing currents are low. Both Options 4 and 6 create a basin that limits existing flow. The two “mitigation” schemes, the opening of Sprat point or a canal to Well Bay will not provide enough flow to allow the currents to reach the existing velocity conditions. While not part of this portion of the analysis, sediment is more of an issue for water quality and storm water management rather than sediment transport. Long Bay The potential impacts to the existing sediment transport scheme in Long Bay vary based on the development option. The potential impacts due to Option 6 are little change to the sediment budget and stability however there is a slight potential for erosion. The velocities are low and the potential impacts are likely to manifest themselves as some isolated shifting of sand at the out‐shore ends with no net loss in the bay. This is based on the grain size that shows the majority of the sand is between the #40 (0.4mm) and #100 (0.15mm) sieve. The potential impacts due to Option 4 will change the area from one that is stable to one that is slightly depositional. The area will still have a similar current scheme so accumulation of fine grain material in the bay will be limited. These potential changes to the existing sediment transport scheme are greater at the “ends” of the bay where the beach is not as wide and the sand is mainly in the #40 (0.4mm) to #60(0.2mm) sieve size. This sand is not easily moved by the currents that were measured at the site or those velocities calculated by the model. The impacts of the canal and the changes at sprat point can be seen in Figure 27. These changes are modest and will have less impact than Option 6 and if there are any impacts they will be isolated to the end areas. Well Bay As would be expected other than the areas that will be covered by fill due to the runway extension there are no anticipated changes in the sediment transport scheme in Well Bay. The 81
currents measured in Well Bay are very low and the sediments are sand in the #20 (0.85mm) and #40 (0.42mm) size. There will be little impact to the existing sediment transport schemes due to any of the options. The proposed canal from Well to Trellis Bay does have some potential to alter the transport compared to the existing conditions. This potential is very low when the actual current velocities are analyzed. Even with a four to five fold increase (anticipated change) in the current at the mouth of the canal the absolute currents are still well below that which is needed to move sand of this size. There is likely to be some movement of the sediments at the canal entrance which will reach equilibrium without loss of sand in the overall area. It shall be pointed out that these predictions and conclusions are based on normal tidal driven current conditions. Storms are anticipated to have a more profound impact on erosion and deposition of bottom sediments. Each storm is expected to have a unique direction, wave height and storm surge which will result in different impacts. The study of these impacts is complicated and is beyond the scope of this study. Hydrology Beef Island can be broken into roughly 15 small drainage areas (see attached plan of drainage areas in the computations). Three of the drainage areas, are predominately influenced by the airport runway, aprons, buildings and parking lots (see drawing below). The attached computations center on these three drainage areas. The airport drains to the Trellis Bay to the southeast, Long Bay to the northwest and to Wells Bay to the South. Trellis Bay is the largest recipient of stormwater runoff leaving the airport. It should be noted that Trellis Bay is also impacted by stormwater runoff from a small number of homes along the coast of the bay , a small developed island, and two additional drainage basins consisting of mostly undeveloped wooded land to the east. Presently stormwater leaves the site via overland flow along the northwest airport border to Long Bay and a small impoundment at the southwest corner of the airport. Stormwater is collected south of the runway in drainage ditches/swales within the airport proper. Stormwater collected in the ditches/swales is directed to point discharges. The largest point discharge is in the vicinity of the southeast corner of the runway and consists of 3 culverts, 32 inches in diameter, emptying into Trellis Bay. The western point discharge consists of a single 24 inch in diameter culvert emptying into Well Bay. Some infiltration is assumed to occur in the existing swales but was not modeled since it would skew the comparisons to the considered 82
options, since a drainage plan is not available for the options at this early stage of proposed expansion plans. It should be noted that many methods could be employed to reduce stormwater leaving the site and entering coastal waters. These include the incorporation of retention basins, infiltration trenches, low impact development methods, best management methods (BMP) and careful site design. The Hydrology model used for this study is based on the United States Department of Agriculture Soil Conservation Service Engineering Technical Release 55 (TR‐55). The model employs a curve number to account for hydrologic soil group, cover type, hydrologic condition, and antecedent runoff condition. Infiltration rates vary widely and are affected by subsurface permeability as well as surface intake rates. The cover types range from bare soil to dense forested areas with heavy forest litter and consider the condition of the cover from good to poor. The antecedent runoff condition is an attempt to gage the runoff potential of a site from storm to storm. Another consideration is if the impervious areas are connected through a stormwater drainage system or if they are un‐connected and allowed to flow unto pervious areas. It is reported in several sources that annual rainfall in the BVI is in the range of 40 to 45 inches. Paraphrasing most drainage design manuals in publication today: The highest peak discharges from small watersheds are usually caused by intense brief rainfall that occurs as a distinct event or as a part of a longer storm. Due to the high variability of rainfall intensity distribution during a storm event the USDA has developed synthetic rainfall distributions using U.S. National Weather Service data for typical storms. The twenty four hour storm, while longer than that needed to determine peaks for small drainage areas, is appropriate for determining runoff volumes. A single storm duration associated synthetic rainfall distribution can be used to represent not only peak discharge but also runoff volumes. This is of particular interest in modeling the intense short duration storms that can occur at any time in the BVI. Annual maximum 24 hour rainfall events and the probability of reoccurrence were taken from data for the U.S. Virgin Islands (reference 4). In addition the following figures were used to estimate the annual rainfall and monthly distribution:
NCDC 1981‐ 2010
Feb Mar Apr May Jun
Average 3.13 1.90 1.62 3.23 3.97 2.64 3.43 3.74 5.87 5.64 7.32 4.23 46.72
NCDC 1981‐ 2010
Feb Mar Apr May Jun
Average 3.01 1.77 1.70 3.09 4.07 2.77 3.49 3.84 5.50 5.23 5.93 3.50 43.90 Computations were prepared to evaluate the effect on stormwater runoff rates and anticipated stormwater volumes due to the increase of impervious area as a consequence of the expansion of the Terrance B. Lettsome International Airport. As previously mentioned two scenarios were 85
evaluated, referred herein as Option No. 4 and Option No. 6, for the three drainage areas most influenced by activities at the airport. The computations compare the rates of runoff and runoff volumes generated during 1, 2, 10, 25 and 100 year storm events. The computations are meant to provide an order of magnitude comparison to the existing build out of the airport facility. In order to make a straight line assessment routing through existing or proposed channels, pipes and detention facilities was not considered. This allows the computations to gage the change in potential stormwater leaving the site for the existing facilities, and the proposed options without attenuation.
The following summary of changes to the drainage areas were used in the hydrology model:
Drainage Area 1 Existing Condition
Option No. 4
Drainage Area 2 Existing Condition
Option No. 4
Drainage Area 3 Existing Condition
Option No. 4
As can be expected, the resulting increase in total area and increase of impervious surfaces resulted in an increase in peak flow (rate of discharge) and in the volume of total stormwater generated by the proposed development. A summary of the overall results are shown in the following tables:
DRAINAGE AREA 1
Projected 24Hr. Rainfall
Existing Runoff Area 58.32 acres Adjusted Curve No. 77 Runoff Runoff Rate Volume
Option No. 4 Runoff Area 58.82 acres Adjusted Curve No. 78 Runoff Runoff Rate Volume
Option No. 6 Runoff Area 70.74 acres Adjusted Curve No. 78 Runoff Runoff Rate Volume
DRAINAGE AREA 2
1 Year 2 Year 10 Year 25 Year 100 Year
Projected 24Hr. Rainfall (Inches)
Option No. 4
Option No. 6
Runoff Area 78.73 acres Adjusted Curve No. 89 Runoff Runoff Rate Volume (cfs) (acre‐feet)
Runoff Area 145.90 acres Adjusted Curve No. 86 Runoff Runoff Rate Volume (cfs) (acre‐feet)
Runoff Area 90.90 acres Adjusted Curve No. 89 Runoff Runoff Rate Volume (cfs) (acre‐feet)
130.22 204.33 386.34 532.86 645.13
210.84 346.15 686.01 961.64 1172.97
151.24 237.27 448.57 618.65 748.98
2.8 3.9 6.6 8.8 10.5
10.548 16.83 32.937 46.24 56.537
16.863 27.941 57.11 81.593 100.632
12.179 19.433 38.03 53.389 65.278
DRAINAGE AREA 3
1 Year 2 Year 10 Year 25 Year 100 Year
Projected 24Hr. Rainfall (Inches)
Existing Runoff Area 33.49 acres Adjusted Curve No. 72 Runoff Runoff Rate Volume (cfs) (acre‐feet)
Option No. 4 Runoff Area 52.16 acres Adjusted Curve No. 74 Runoff Runoff Rate Volume (cfs) (acre‐feet)
Option No. 6 Runoff Area 46.56 acres Adjusted Curve No. 74 Runoff Runoff Rate Volume (cfs) (acre‐feet)
17.69 39.25 102.72 158.97 203.37
32.45 67.96 169.58 258.17 327.67
28.97 60.66 151.37 230.45 292.49
2.8 3.9 6.6 8.8 10.5
1.731 3.539 9.038 14.079 18.153
3.074 6.064 14.939 22.961 29.407
2.744 5.413 13.335 20.496 26.25
As shown in the result summary above Option 4 causes the largest jump in runoff rate and increase of volume of storm water entering the adjacent coastal waterways. 92
To put these numbers into perspective the stormwater volume associated with each storm reoccurrence for the existing condition, and both options being considered, are tabulated below in relation to the depth it would fill a 80 yard by 120 yard soccer field (1.98 acres in size) if the sides of the soccer field were contained:
Existing Condition Drainage Area 1
Drainage Area 2
Drainage Area 3
to Long Bay
to Trellis Bay
to Wells Bay
Depth of Water
within 1.98 ac
Depth of Water
Depth of Water
within 1.98 ac
within 1.98 ac
4.14 7.77 18.19 27.42 34.78
2.09 3.92 9.19 13.85 17.57
10.55 16.83 32.94 46.24 56.54
5.33 8.50 16.63 23.35 28.55
1.73 3.54 9.04 14.08 18.15
0.87 1.79 4.56 7.11 9.17
1 Year 2 Year 10 Year 25 Year 100 Year
Option No. 4
1 Year 2 Year 10 Year 25 Year 100 Year
Drainage Area 1
Drainage Area 2
Drainage Area 3
to Long Bay
to Trellis Bay
to Wells Bay
Depth of Water
within 1.98 ac
Depth of Water within 1.98 ac
within 1.98 ac
4.14 8.19 18.87 28.27 35.74
2.09 4.14 9.53 14.28 18.05
16.86 27.94 57.11 81.59 100.63
8.52 14.11 28.84 41.21 50.82
3.07 6.06 14.94 22.96 29.41
1.55 3.06 7.54 11.60 14.85
Depth of Water
Option No. 6
1 Year 2 Year 10 Year 25 Year 100 Year
Drainage Area 1
Drainage Area 2
Drainage Area 3
to Long Bay
to Trellis Bay
to Wells Bay
Depth of Water
within 1.98 ac
Depth of Water
Depth of Water
within 1.98 ac
within 1.98 ac
5.32 9.84 22.67 33.97 42.95
2.69 4.97 11.45 17.16 21.69
12.18 19.43 38.03 53.39 65.28
6.15 9.81 19.21 26.96 32.97
2.74 5.41 13.34 20.50 26.25
1.39 2.73 6.73 10.35 13.26
As shown in the above charts and figures Option No. 4 produces the largest increases of stormwater discharge rates and runoff volumes. Additional detail can be found in the Appendix which contains the preliminary hydrology computations.
6.2 Mitigation of Environmental Risks Mitigation measures to address environmental issues can be presented as a separate report to this project when the plans progress beyond the conceptual stage. In general, most mitigation recommendations will follow accepted standards that are appropriate to the potential risks assumed to occur with a project of this type. Detailed comments on mitigation will be more appropriate once the preferred runway option is determined. Some mitigation measures, such as silt fences to prevent erosion, are standard and well accepted parts of any construction project. These mitigation measures are recommended as 94
general actions to take. The details and specific directives will vary according to site conditions. Certainly, they would be more necessary with option 4. Without much more detailed information, not available at the present time, only general comments can be offered. The suggestions will be driven more by the results desired rather than the techniques to employ. In some situations, there are no practical mitigation measures to suggest. For example, habitat loss or change is a consequence of development and must be accepted as such. Once a development plan is approved by government and construction begins, environmental impacts are inevitable and unavoidable. Any mitigation that is practical would have only indirect bearing on the specific issue. An example might include alternate habitat repair or the relatively new concept of mitigation banking. Habitat repair refers to a replacement of habitats for the ones lost. If ten acres of sea grass must be lost to the runway extension, then the Project becomes obligated to construct, repair, or replant a similar, or greater, acreage of habitat at another location. This approach has not been consistently or successfully applied in the BVI. However, this report recommends habitat repair and expansion as one part of the commitment to environmental health and sustainability. Perhaps the expansion of the runway may consider such an approach as part of the mitigation plan. Mitigation banking is a concept where the damaged or lost habitat is assigned a monetary value that is contributed by the Developer, in this case, the government. The fund is then used for environmental repair projects or environmental education. Numerous opportunities exist for this approach at Beef Island, near the airport, and at other locations. Hydrology Mitigation Measures Mitigation of impacts relating the stormwater runoff to receiving water bodies is typically broken into two components. The first component involving issues with water quality and its effect on receiving water bodies , and the second to address increases to the rate of runoff and volume which directly affect erosion and the transport of sediment. Stormwater should be recharged within the same subwatershed within the drainage area to maintain baseflow at pre‐development recharge levels to the maximum extent practicable. Recharge volume is determined as a function of annual pre‐development..Some exemptions to the recharge are necessary to ensure public safety, avoid unnecessary threats of groundwater contamination, and avoid common nuisance issues, a physical limitation that would make 95
implementation impracticable or where unusual geological or soil features may exist such as significant clay deposits, ledge, fill soils, or areas of documented slope failure. The objective of the groundwater recharge is to protect water table levels, stream baseflow, wetlands, and soil moisture levels. Infiltrating stormwater may also provide significant water quality benefits such as reduction of bacteria, nutrients, and metals when infiltrated into the soil profile. Maintaining pre‐development groundwater recharge conditions may also be used to reduce the volume requirements dictated by other sizing criteria (i.e., water quality, channel protection, and overbank flood control) and the overall size and cost of stormwater treatment practices. Recharge must occur in a manner that protects groundwater quality Water Quality Stormwater runoff should be treated before discharge. Unmitigated release of stormwater via culverts or direct discharge outfalls to coastal waters is looked upon unfavorably in today’s scientific and ecologically conscious community. The amount that should be treated from each rainfall event is known as the required water quality volume (WQv) and is the portion of runoff that carries the highest pollutant load. The measure is intended to remove the majority of pollutants in stormwater runoff at a reasonable cost by capturing and treating runoff from small, frequent storm events that account for a majority of the annual pollutant load, while bypassing larger, infrequent storm events that account for a small percentage of the annual pollutant load. This approach is based on the “first flush” concept, which assumes that the majority of pollutants in urban stormwater runoff are contained in the first half‐inch to one‐ inch of runoff primarily due to pollutant washoff during the first portion of a storm event. Studies and Florida determined that the first flush generally carries 90% of the pollution from a storm. Reference should be made to the hydrology appendix for further detail regarding water quality volume. To provide adequate treatment of stormwater, the WQ volume should be treated by at least one of the structural best management practice (BMP) at each location where a discharge of stormwater will occur. Structural BMPs are generally required to achieve the following minimum average pollutant removal efficiencies: 85% removal of total suspended solids (TSS), 60% removal of pathogens, 30% removal of total phosphorus (TP) for discharges to freshwater systems, and 30% removal of total nitrogen (TN) for discharges to saltwater or tidal systems. 96
Based upon results published in the scientific literature, the structural measures listed in the appendix will meet these standards when properly designed, constructed, and maintained. BMPs targeted to remove other pollutant(s) of concern and/or to achieve higher pollutant removal efficiencies may be required for impaired receiving waters, drinking water reservoirs, bathing beaches, and shellfishing grounds. In Myrtle Beach, a community that relies heavily on beach resources for its tourist dependent economy, an ultraviolet (UV) light system was used to treat stormwater to reduce bacteria and pathogens prior to discharge into the ocean. Another solution, that has been implemented in numerous coastal cities in the U.S and at numerous airports, is to collect and store stormwater in tunnels below ground during the storm event and then treatment of the stormwater at nearby sewage treatment facilities during off peak periods prior to discharge to the receiving water. The existing on‐site sewage treatment facility would likely need to be up graded to accommodate this method of achieving the desired water quality results.
Stormwater Rate of Discharge and Volume Mitigation There are many simple proven methods for regulating the rate at which stormwater is discharged and its volume after being conveyed to suitable area for collection. Primary methods include the employment of retention basins which capture all of the runoff, wet and/or dry detention basins which detain the water for a period of time allowing it to be metered out at a slower rate, and infiltration practices. Several measures that have come into vogue over the last decade revolving around what is referred to as “low impact development” techniques, otherwise referred to as LID. LID measures seek to reduce the volume by managing the runoff as close to the source as possible by directing it to slight vegetative depressions in the terrain, tree wells, groundwater recharge areas, vegetative lined channels with high level overflows, and so forth. LID strategies are favored for small sites since they incorporate water quality improvements in their design. Use of LID techniques does not necessarily completely supplant the use of end of pipe technology, particularly on large developments like the airport expansion being considered. LID methods should be used in conjunction with other measures on large sites. The volume of water anticipated in the computations, generated by selected storm events, along with the lack of extensive suitable permeable soil reduces the consideration of infiltration as a complete solution for stormwater management on the site. Infiltration however, could possibly be employed to mitigate the water quality volume thereby reducing the overall volume directed to an end of pipe solution. Eliminating untreated direct discharge stormwater solutions, particularly the existing outfalls at Trellis Bay and at Wells Bay, would go a long way in improving the water quality in the coastal waters surrounding the airport. Due to the large volume of stormwater, outfalls would still be required but only after the stormwater is suitably treated, the water quality volume removed from the waste steam, and outfalls are relocated to areas that provide an opportunity for greater dispersion into receiving waters. Of the two options being proposed Airport expansion option number 6 presents the least intrusive overall impact to the surrounding water quality with the exception of the waters within Trellis Bay. Pre‐treatment of the stormwater prior to discharge and relocation of the Trellis Bay stormwater outfall to the northeast end of the runway (the Conch Bay side of the runway) is worth considering as an approach for further study to ensure continued health of Trellis Bay. 99
Regardless of which option is decided upon to facilitate the expansion of the airport it is likely that it will require a hybrid solution to stormwater management, both for water quality and to mitigates the large discharges anticipated to the receiving coastal waters. Engineering firms engaged to design the improvements will need to carefully study the existing soils, geology, hydrology and available vegetation to properly design soil erosion and sedimentation plans for the construction phase of the project. Additionally, best management practices will need to be incorporated into the long term improvements to safeguard against potential harmful effects of unmitigated stormwater discharge directed to coastal resources.
Dry Extended Detention Basin
Wet Extended Detention Basin
Mitigation of potential harmful impacts on the surrounding landside and coastal environment, due to the increase in stormwater runoff, is of paramount importance to a successful expansion of the existing airport runway. Due to the potential of short duration high intensity storms in the BVI properly designed construction stormwater management practices must be employed and diligently maintained throughout the construction phase of the airport expansion. Construction managers, contractors and their subcontractors should be informed as to the potential for dire consequences to the coastal environment should sediment laden runoff be allowed to flow un‐checked into coastal resources. Careful design of measures to protect the long term water quality of surrounding coastal waters and associated coastal wetlands from the harmful effect of sediment and pollutants carried by stormwater should be designed into the final stormwater management system by professionals specializing in this field. Pretreatment of the water quality volume by infiltration or interception and UV disinfection and/or treatment at the sewage treatment facility should be a top priority to ensure that most of the pollutants are removed from the waste stream prior to discharge. Retention or detention basins should be incorporated into the design to limit the discharge rate, the sediment and the volume of stormwater leaving the site. Excess water stored underground or in retention basins could be used for irrigation within the airport complex. Although option number 6 presents the least environmentally intrusive alternative, when compared to option number 4, there is a real concern that constricting the entrance to Trellis Bay could lead to impairment of the bay’s water quality. Relocating the existing three 32” outfalls that discharge in Trellis Bay to the end of the proposed runway with outfalls and diffusers located in Conch Bay would appear to be a positive step in maintaining the water quality in Trellis Bay. The diffusers should be carried far enough into Conch Bay to disperse conveyed stormwater and allow optimal mixing in order to protect the pristine beach to the west, at Long Bay. In addition, due to the small watershed involved, the outfall to Wells Bay could possibly be eliminated and replaced with a bottom infiltrating retention pond, within the drainage area, with an overflow to accommodate the more severe rainfall events. Further detailed study is recommended to develop best management practices for mitigating the effect of stormwater discharges to Trellis Bay, Well Bay, and Conch Bay.
With regard to option number 4, preliminary computations indicate that there will be a 78% increase in stormwater runoff to Trellis Bay, assuming a normally crowned runway with sheet flow being the primary stormwater conveyance mechanism. One advantage for Trellis Bay is that this option does not constrict the entrance. Also, should the Airport Authority decide to exercise this option a portion of the stormwater could be collected in a drainage system and split between Conch Bay and Trellis Bay. This advantage would have to be weighed against the overall impact to all the surrounding coastal waters since option no.4 generates significantly more stormwater runoff due to its increase footprint. The outfall to Wells bay could be similarly treated as discussed for option number 6 above. Design Options Preliminary investigations of several alternates were performed to promote increased flow and flushing at Trellis Bay for the Option #6 construction alternate. These include supporting a portion of the runway on piles, installing culverts below water through the runway fill material, removing a portion of Sprat Point, and constructing a canal from Trellis Bay to Well Bay. The benefits and preliminary costs for each of these are outlined below. We performed a preliminary investigation into using a pile supported, bridge type structure along a portion of the runway to promote better flow and flushing in the bay (see table below). The overall structure is 492 ft long by 492 ft wide. The Option 6 alternate requires about 1926 ft of fill to be placed across the opening to Trellis Bay. About 25% of the runway fill length is supported by a pile supported reinforced concrete slab type structure. A steel sheetpile bulkhead is also required at the transition from the pile supported structure to the earth fill at each end. It may be possible to locate the pile supported structure at the end of the runway to eliminate the need for one of the bulkheads but the flushing impacts on the bay are not expected to be as effective. Refer to Proposed Bridge / Pile Supported Runway Option 6A Overleaf The bridge approach provides about 45% of the opening that exists currently at Trellis Bay. This includes the opening at the end of the runway near Sprat Point and the area below the bridge section. This approach would provide a reasonable length for normal tidal cycles to create flow and flushing within the Trellis Bay. It is recommended that monitoring be conducted through a
summer season to determine baseline readings before and after construction to verify there is sufficient flow to maintain adequate water quality in the Trellis Bay. A pile supported structural slab is considered costly and will have long term future maintenance implications. However, this is not an unprecedented approach to support a runway. There are several airports around the world that utilize this type of construction. A few examples include runway D at Tokyo Haneda Airport (Figures 2 and 3), the runway extension at LGA Airport in New York, USA, and the expansion at London City Airport (Figures 4 and 5). Costs were not available for the LGA or Haneda projects but the cost for the LCA airport structure completed in 2003 and 2007 ranged from $140 to $260/ft2. This equates to a cost of between $34 and $62 million dollars for the 242,000 ft2 section required at this site. These are USD costs.
Haneda Airport Pile Supported Runway
Haneda Airport Stainless Steel Pile Jackets
London City Airport Pile Supported Extensions 106
London City Airport Using a pile supported structure to support a portion of the runway is considered to be a technically feasible alternate to provide increased flow and flushing into and out of Trellis Bay. However, the cost of this approach is considered high and other alternates may accomplish the same goal at lesser cost. This approach will also result in increased maintenance and inspection costs in the future due to corrosion of the steel piles and concrete in the marine environment. This approach may also have security risk implications to the airport due to providing access from the water to the area below the runway. Borings are required to determine soil and bedrock conditions at the proposed bridge area to support design. The second alternate investigated to promote flow and circulation in Trellis Bay is to install a series of reinforced concrete box culverts across the filled area below the runway (Figure 6). Refer to Proposed Bowed Culvert Runway Option 6B Overleaf The intent is to create flow across the runway fill from Trellis Bay to the water on the north side of the runway fill. The culverts are installed just below the MLW elevation. A series of 49 culverts about 10 ft wide (490 ft flow length) are installed to create the same flow length as the 107
pile supported alternate discussed above. The culverts do not provide the same flow volume as the bridge alternate, however, because they are only about 10 ft deep. Installing the culverts requires a cofferdam structure and dewatering system to allow construction to be undertaken in the dry. Borings are required to support design of the culvert alternate. It is necessary to confirm that the culvert structures can be constructed without experiencing damaging settlement. If soft, compressible soil exists at the bottom of Trellis Bay it may be necessary to remove these materials or to install piles to support the culverts which will substantially increase costs. The borings available from the geotechnical report (GAL 1999) indicate existing conditions of shallow bedrock with reasonably competent surficial soil at the bottom of Trellis Bay in the area anticipated for these culverts. The estimated preliminary additional cost for the culvert construction is estimated to be about $8 ‐ $10 million dollars (USD). This alternate is expected to require additional maintenance and inspection costs similar to the bridge. The concrete culverts may be subjected to blockage by marine growth and/or debris and require cleaning. Maintenance inside these culvert structures is not easily performed. This approach may also create a security risk to the airport due to access from water to the area below the runway. The third alternate investigated to improve flow and flushing into Trellis Bay is to remove a portion of Sprat Point. This approach has an added benefit of allowing for a wider entrance for vessel passage into this popular and heavily used bay. The wider entrance allows vessels to more easily enter Trellis Bay without crossing close to the end of the runway. The alternate includes removing between 394 and 492 ft of Sprat Point and dredging the channel to ‐16 ft. The excavation and dredging is estimated to result in about 140,000 to 170,000 cyds of spoil materials which may be suitable for use as backfill for runway construction. Test pits and borings are required to determine whether the material is suitable as backfill for the project. This approach creates a 787 to 885 ft wide channel (outside the no boat zone) which is anticipated to provide significant water flow and flushing during a normal tidal cycle. The cost of the excavation and dredging is estimated at about $2 to 3 million dollars (USD) depending on access. However, there may be a corresponding reduction in borrow material costs (compared to trucking from quarries) because of the close proximity of Sprat Point to the runway fill area. 108
Refer to Proposed Sprat Point Demo Option 6C Overleaf The fourth alternate investigated is to construct channel about 4034 ft long to connect Trellis Bay to Well Bay to promote better flushing. The channel would generally parallel the runway and extend between the terminal building and the runway. The location requires access bridges and retaining walls in areas near the terminal building or at points where the channel must be crossed by pedestrians or vehicles. The channel proposed is trapezoidal with a width of about 32 ft at the bottom and 2:1 side slopes. The invert of the channel is at elevation ‐16 ft. The construction of this channel results in about 500,000 cyds of spoil material that may be suitable to be used as fill for the runway. Test pits or borings are necessary to confirm the soil and/or bedrock is suitable. Based on available information bedrock is anticipated to be encountered along the excavation area west of the terminal building. The cost of this approach is estimated to be about $6 ‐ $8 million dollars (USD). The length of the channel compared to its cross sectional area is considered an inefficient means to convey water between Trellis Bay and Well Bay. This channel may develop into a maintenance concern and possible debris trap. If insufficient water volume may pass through the channel during a normal tidal cycle it may lead to future water quality issues in Trellis Bay. Refer to Proposed Channel Option 6D Overleaf
6.3 Enhancements Enhancements are generally considered to be actions designed to improve upon an existing condition. The options for realistic and practical enhancements related to this project include expansion of habitats, like mangroves, or prevention of current shoreline erosion. The adoption of methodologies and technologies to reduce discharge of pollutants into the sea could also be viewed as an enhancement. Improved waste water treatment and stormwater management are examples. The issues of environmental benefits are also rather problematic because of the subjectivity involved. Possible benefits, or enhancements, might include control of invasives. If invasive plants could be controlled and if rats could be reduced in number, it would be a definite enhancement. Most enhancements, or benefits, would be possible in the areas of public awareness and education. Creating more environmental awareness of the importance of the mangroves and corals so individuals would exercise more care near coastal areas might enhance that portion of the environment. Education efforts related to the marine environment and protection of coral reefs might lead to an enhancement of those habitats. The positive impact of Option 4 is that it saves Trellis Bay, and provides a direct approach to the airport runway. On the negative side, this option is less safe because of cross winds and wind shear. Marina Cay and Scrub Island will be directly under the flight path of the aircrafts, which will also be closer to Great Camanoe. The noise pollution for these three areas will increase dramatically. In addition, Long Bay Beach, which is frequented by residents for recreational purposes, will be impacted, as well as boats crossing the waterway, and fishermen. With the exception of the foregoing, all other factors in Option 6 apply.
6.4 Significance of Environmental Impacts An assessment of the significance of the potential impacts is largely subjective in nature. It is clear that there will be some impacts as a result of the runway extension plans. It is only necessary to look at the Master Plan for the proposed extension and compare it to the existing habitats to realize that there will be changes to the environment. It is the primary intention of this report to comment upon those probable changes. In most cases, the recommendations are intended to minimize collateral damage. That is, to keep the environmental impacts within the 110
boundaries of the footprint of the reclaimed area. These have been commented upon previously. The ultimate significance of the potential environmental impacts is dependent on how the runway extension project is carried out and if the recommendations for mitigation are considered and correctly implemented. For example, erosion issues can be resolved so there is little or no negative environmental impact. Conversely, without proper erosion control measures, sediment can pour into the sea and devastate the marine environments turning the offshore coral reefs and sea grasses into a barren underwater wasteland. There are numerous options to reduce impacts, beyond the footprint of the extension. Improving water quality in Trellis Bay can have a significant beneficial impact. Some of those benefits can be realized as part of the extension project. The significance of the environmental impacts on the human environment is documented in Table 27 of the socio economic appendix as the level of impact ‐ low, medium and high – the most significant of which – in order of priority are the impact on: •
The Last Resort at Bellamy Cay will be impacted by the some obstruction to the view, the noise, and a potential reduction in business activity if the charter boats do not come to Trellis Bay
Trellis Bay business community will also be impacted by potential view obstruction, noise pollution, and the potential loss of some charter boats from which it derives its business. Little Mountain – especially those dwellings on the south side of the mountain – who will experience high noise levels on aircraft landing and takeoff, as well as the noise from aircraft activity while on the ground. Great Camanoe which will be impacted by the noise on aircraft departure, the lights, and more turbulent waters to navigate on approach to and departure from Trellis in tenders and dinghies. Hodges Creek and Well Bay will be impacted by the noise on arrival of the aircrafts.
TBLIA Runway Expansion ‐ Classification of Environmental Impacts Impact Degree of Impact Area of Impact
Duration of Impact
Probability of Residual Impacts Moderate without mitigation
Option 4 Impairment of water clarity and quality in Trellis Bay Loss of near shore marine habitats Erosion on land
Trellis Bay and area south of runway
Long‐term if not mitigated
Loss of open space Loss of terrestrial habitat Stormwater runoff
Runway footprint Construction areas
permanent in project footprint Short‐term during construction permanent permanent
Area of construction and project footprint Construction areas
Moderate to high
Loss of mangroves
Discharge sites and down current Well Bay
Potentially long‐term without intervention permanent
High without mitigation High without mitigation
low high high
TBLIA Runway Expansion ‐ Classification of Environmental Impacts Impact Degree of Impact Area of Impact
Duration of Impact
Probability of Residual Impacts high without mitigation
Option 6 Impairment of water clarity and quality in Trellis Bay Loss of near shore marine habitats Erosion on land
Long‐term if not mitigated
Loss of open space Loss of terrestrial habitat Stormwater runoff
Runway footprint Construction areas
permanent in project footprint Short‐term during construction permanent temporary
Area of construction and project footprint Construction areas
Moderate to high
Loss of mangroves
Discharge sites and down current Well Bay
Potentially long‐term without intervention permanent
High without mitigation High without mitigation
low high low
Terrance B. Lettsome International Airport
Runway Extension ‐ Impact Assessment Options Evaluation Matrix ‐ Option 6 6
Relocate Existing Remove Sprat Point, Storm Water Drainage Install Breakwater Outfall
E Water Channel
Ocean Current / Circulation
Marine Wildlife Impact
Cost Vessel Navigation Overall Score
Based on a scale of ‐5 to +5 where +5 makes the most positive mitigation measure The above matrix should be considered in addition to policing the number of mooring vessels in Trellis bay Refer to Appendix Reports & Main IA for other mitigating measures 5/28/2012
6.5 Economic Evaluation of Environmental Effects, Adverse and Beneficial An economic analysis of environmental effects related to this project is difficult since there remain numerous aspects of the runway extension details yet to determine. There are numerous issues that will be resolved once the extension option is selected and plans are finalized. Evaluating the monetary value of environmental impacts would be extremely subjective, and probably inaccurate, given the current state of information and planning. Further, this is a project by government to improve the infrastructure of the Territory. Thus, there are numerous intangible considerations and results that are difficult to predict or to which a monetary value can be assigned. Developing a cost analysis for monitoring and mitigation measures is also premature. Those can only be produced with any degree of accuracy once more project details are available. Until then, such analysis would depend on very general assumptions and any conclusions would run the risk of being labeled as little more than fanciful speculation. With respect to compensation for the potential reduction or loss of business, as well as depreciation in property values, some “developed” countries have some type of compensation act. Where devaluation could be demonstrated, valuations are carried out and compared with those of properties in unaffected areas. One anomaly to the UK Land Compensation Act 1963 now requires an amendment that “Land Compensation will become payable one year after the completion of the approved facilities or on the achievement of the associated passenger throughput, which ever arises first.” Norman Reed “A Short History of Land Compensation Matters,” 2006. While the worst‐case‐scenario suggests that the value of the businesses at Trellis Bay could be negatively impacted in the first instance, the risk could be mitigated by redirecting their business to the type of visitors who will be frequenting Trellis Bay from the airport. In many ways, it could be an opportunity for the Trellis Bay community to thrive beyond levels previously experienced.
Option 6 ‐ Airport’s Immediate Vicinity The Last Resort. The economic impact on the Last Resort at Bellamy Cay will be very significant, because of its close proximity to the proposed runway, both in terms of the noise level and the possibility that Trellis Bay could lose its attractiveness and value as a popular anchorage of great strategic value, and charter boats will no longer go there. The owner of The 112
Last Resort restaurant believes that the business will no longer be financially viable and asked if the Government would compensate him for this perceived loss. Alternatively, instead of seeking compensation for the restaurant, or even a buyer for the same, the owner could perhaps change his business model to target the increase number of visitors who would be coming to the airport. Because the property is leasehold, the economic impact is not as burdensome as one that is freehold. The demonstrable goodwill of the Government could be to provide assistance in mitigating the noise pollution by offering to cover the cost of retrofitting the restaurant with sound proof materials. Trellis Bay Business Community. This community will be impacted as well if the charter boats stop coming. As suggested above, the additional demand from the expected increase in the number of visitors may require those businesses to rethink their old strategies and find new ways to capture this new market. Most of the structures at Trellis Bay are leasehold, thereby reducing the economic shocks of the proposed runway extension. The Loose Mongoose. Unlike most of the structures at Trellis Bay which are leasehold, The Loose Mongoose guest house is freehold and currently on the market for US$3.5 million. While one could rightly argue that the global economic downturn might be affecting the sale of properties today, it also calls into question the extent to which the proposed airport extension will further complicate the sale of properties under or close to the fly path of the aircrafts. Surf Song. This villa resort situated in Well Bay is also listed for sale at US$4.8 million. Again, the extent to which property values depreciate because of the proposed extension of the runway should be monitored closely. Outer Islands •
Great Camanoe. Great Camanoe will be impacted by aircraft noise, light, and impeded – and perceived unsafe – access to Trellis Bay. There are currently three properties for sale at Great Camanoe, and there may be more. Marina Cay. Marina Cay will experience noise pollution on aircraft departure. It is also likely that any change in charter boat traffic in Trellis Bay could increase or decrease the current boat traffic congestion at Marina Cay. Scrub Island. Scrub Island will be impacted by noise pollution on the departure of aircrafts. 113
Virgin Gorda and the other Outer Islands. Some persons interviewed expressed concern that Tortola will have to deal with the collateral impact of the runway extension, while Virgin Gorda – especially the North Sound ‐‐ will reap the benefits. The collateral impact envisaged to be the increased demands from the visitors and imported labour on traffic, parking, water and sewerage, electricity, litter, housing, health services, education, and criminal activity, to name a few.
Noise and dust levels must be contained during the construction phase. The socio‐economic impact of this phase of the project will be far reaching, especially with regard to the influx of labour necessary to build the runway extension and reinforce the existing runway to accommodate the B737‐ 700 and B737‐800 jets. Scott Wilson’s assessment of the impacts during the construction phase in his 1999 EIA report on the Beef Island Development are as relevant for this runway extension today as they were for the last extension. Reference should be made to the table below: Construction Phase Socio‐Economic Impact Probability Matrix (appendix). 114
Construction Phase Socio‐Economic Impact Probability Matrix Short Term Impacts (Construction Phase) Direct
Effect +/‐ Noise and disruption from construction activities ‐ and boats/vehicles in the immediate vicinity of the airport – Little Mountain, Well Bay, Long Bay, Trellis Bay, East End of Tortola, Little Camanoe, Great Camanoe
Congestion and disruption through the transportation of materials for construction by sea and land Sea
Disruption for yachts and shipping from dredger and from transportation and in‐fill activities
Enhance income earning opportunities for local labour depending upon the involvement of local contracting firms Congestion and restriction of read access for inhabitants of Beef Island and local people wishing to use recreational facilities Restriction of parking and road access for taxi drivers and employees working at the airport Restriction of sites for informal traders stationed outside the airport and at beaches at Trellis Bay and Long Bay
Disruption for small businesses in Trellis and residents of Little Mountain and Well Bay
Increased coastal traffic, congestion and loss of access for recreational yachts and ferry boats around Beef Island Congestion and strain upon roads and other infrastructure along the route from Road Town, through East End to Beef Island Potential long‐term environmental change to Trellis Bay if sand is taken from there; change to the character and coastal environment of the Bay, making it less attractive to visitors Improved income‐earning opportunities for small businesses in East End, servicing site workers and providing construction materials Potential access problems for local workers at the airport and Trellis Bay who rely upon hitching lifts to their places of work Loss of income‐earning opportunities
Loss of income‐earning opportunities at the airport, but potentially enhanced business from construction site
Effect +/‐ ‐
Increased volume on roads and pressure on local ‐ infrastructure Loss of areas known for their tranquil atmosphere ‐ Potential curtailment of visitor access from the airport and sea and subsequent loss of income earning opportunities
Partial of the eastern entrance to Trellis Bay for recreational yachts and ferry operators to neighboring islands
Possible restriction of access to Bay for some yachts during hurricanes
Source: Scott Wilson, 1999
The extended runway will significantly increase the Territory’s able to provide convenient access to current and prospective visitors. Extension of the terminal building, other buildings and associated facilities commensurate with the runway extension will facilitate enhanced processing of visitors and luggage, among a myriad of other benefits. The Table below was reproduced here largely in its entirety from Scott Wilson’s 1999 EIA report on the Beef Island Airport Development, because of the significant relevance it has for the proposed runway extension as well. Immediate Post Construction Phase Socio‐ economic Impact Probability Matrix Immediate Post Construction Phase Impacts Direct Impacts
Larger runway and capacity terminal building +/‐
Improved conditions for visitors and airport staff Increased noise and visual intrusion for businesses and recreational users in Trellis Bay Increased noise and visual intrusion for visitors/owners of properties in close proximity to the airport
Increased noise and visual intrusion for recreational beach users in Long Bay
Potential increase in the number of passengers arriving in the BVI, through increased processing capacity Enhanced income earning opportunities for local people, development of small businesses serving enhanced passenger flow such as baggage handling, hotel accommodation representatives, catering, souvenirs, transport Increased employment in the formal sector within the airport such as security guards, customs and airline staff More contented employees
Enhanced “experience” for visitors Potential increase in income through more visitors from the airport
Loss of “character” of the Bay Possible loss of attractiveness of the Bay to yacht users, and a decline in their numbers. Consequent impact upon small businesses decline in “quality of life” and loss of value of properties Loss of desirability of Beef Island as a destination for visitors Decline in popularity and use of a popular recreational location with local people and youth, community and church groups.
7. Environmental Management Implementation 7.1 Environmental Monitoring An environmental monitoring plan can be prepared as the runway extension option is chosen and construction plans are finalized. It should be recognized that the monitoring plan is a response to specific site conditions and the project parameters as they emerge. Additionally, the monitoring plan will be dependent upon the acceptance of the mitigation measures. Reference should be made to section 6. of Ricondo & Associates report in the appendix.
7.2 Environmental Management Capacity The environmental management capacity should be incorporated into the environmental management plan. This deals with the requirements for and resources necessary to implement the environmental management plan. It also involves the field data collection, analysis, and report preparation and submission. This can be developed as part of the project plan once the option is chosen and other decisions are made. Reference should be made to section 6. of Ricondo & Associates report in the appendix.
7.3 Environmental Management Plan An EMP is included in section 6. of Ricondo & Associates report in the appendix. The environmental management plan can be adjusted as more information becomes available. It covers mitigation measures during the construction phase, mitigation measures that are long term and extend beyond the construction phase, and the management requirements to implement the mitigation measures. 118
8. Conclusions & Recommendations 8.1 Statement of Impact The statement of impact would vary with the option chosen and the priorities assigned. The environmental impact of option 4 would be substantial while the socio‐economic impact would be moderate. The opposite would be true for option 6. Both options will produce impacts on the environment and on the society. Whether or not those impacts are acceptable is highly subjective, as was clearly demonstrated by the comments during the two open public forums.
8.2 Conclusions and Recommendations The current proposal calls for significant runway extension and upgrade to airport. The size and scope of the project will produce significant impacts. Erosion control measures during and after construction will be very important to prevent sediments and pollutants from washing into the sea. Control and management of stormwater runoff will help prevent deterioration of coastal water quality. Control of noxious pests and invasives will be important. Impacts from the reclamation at Trellis Bay and Well Bay will be significant but may be partially mitigated in numerous ways. Government has decided that the expansion of the airport is necessary to promote the future economic growth of the Territory. Expansion of the existing airport has been the option of first choice. Thus, any discussion of impacts and mitigation must be considered in view of those decisions. Negative environmental and social impacts will require mitigation in the context of the extension plans. The following recommendations are offered to reduce, as much as possible, any negative impacts this runway extension project may create:
Silt fences and other safeguards should be employed to prevent sediment runoff into the sea. More appropriate with option 4.
All pollutants should be managed so that there is no loss to the environment, especially into the sea. 119
Stormwater management plan should prevent contaminants from entering the sea, especially Trellis Bay.
Wastewater treatment should include all establishments at Trellis Bay.
Water quality issues in Trellis Bay should become part of the management plan.
Existing vegetation should be preserved as much as possible, especially in the salt pond.
Conduct dredging and reclamation so damage to adjacent areas is prevented.
Mitigate habitat loss by replanting mangroves in new habitats.
Relocate sea grasses and coral where possible onto new substrates or selected new areas.
As much as possible, the coral reefs should be protected from degradation by boats and human activity, primarily through the education of visitors.
Fair compensation should be considered for those individuals and businesses displaced by this project.
Mitigate loss of existing recreational space by creating new attractive areas.
Any project will impact the existing environment. This runway extension project, as proposed, will produce an impact on the environment and community. There are opportunities to mitigate the impacts of the reclamation and effects on Trellis Bay water quality. The economic benefits to the local community and the Territory could be sufficient to outweigh the environmental and social consequences provided the recommendations are followed. Reference should be made to the socio economic appendix to this report which concludes as follows: The informants for this study varied along a preference continuum about what they passionately believe should be the driving force(s) for the runway extension. Those directly impacted were as animated as those who were indirectly impacted, the former being deeply concerned about they perceived to be a negative impact on them, personally, and the latter more concerned about the development of the Territory. Few of the persons consulted liked either of the two runway expansion options primarily because of the many physical constraints 120
such as topography; ecologically sensitive areas; air space penetrations such as residences and boats; access by water and roads; as well as the impact on business and recreational activity all juxtaposed with the type of air service sought. When asked to choose the better of the two, the plurality of participants selected Option 4, with the expectation and hope that requisite measures will be taken to protect Trellis Bay. The option to install culverts in the eastern extension of the runway above the sea floor to flush the Bay was viewed very favorably. There were others who believe the timing of the expansion may be misguided, and that the monies could be better spent on improving the quality of the BVI product by ensuring the capacity of the Territory to deliver essential quality services commensurate current demands. Those services include health, housing, education, vehicular traffic, parking, water and sewerage, electricity, control of immigration, and crime prevention. The re‐ordering of those priorities is based on the assumption that the BVI does not need to have direct flights to the U.S., as greater exposure will degrade the high end market the Territory seeks. The proponents of this view believe that the Territory would be better served by effective and efficient regional airlift. Along this same line of reasoning, others argue that the Territory should have its own regional airline to move passengers between San Juan, St. Maarten, Antigua and Barbados – and perhaps, Guadeloupe, to reduce its dependence on other carriers and give the Territory control over its own flight schedule with a view towards ensuring that passengers make their connections seamlessly. The St. Barths model is frequently invoked as one to emulate. Still others would like to see incremental extensions. They worry about whether the planes will be full; whether there will be enough work for airport staff between flights; where all of the visitors will stay; what will happen in the slow season; what will happen were an aircraft accident to occur; how flight cancellations will be handled and so forth. A very small minority still believe that Anegada is the most suitable location for an international airport, which could then become a hub for the rest of the Caribbean. This is a very ambitious and expensive proposition that perhaps conjures up images of the aviation industry becoming the third pillar of BVI economy. Others dismiss the idea primarily because of cost, logistics of distance, and impact of hurricanes, and tsunamis. While everyone understood that the Government had already made the decision to extend the runway, participants took strong positions about whether or not to extend the runway. 121
Vacation Home Owners Trellis Bay Business Community
Smaller Accommodation Properties Real Estate Brokers
Developers Some BVIslanders
On close inspection of those spirited discussions, the differences came down to two fundamental questions that require different responses: 1) How do we move people to the BVI? 2) How do we create greater access to the BVI?
If the issue is moving people to the BVI, then the regional aircraft alternative is a logical step forward. Alternatively, if the issue is creating greater access to the BVI, then the expansion of the runway is a step in that direction. However, this begs the question, “if we build it, will they come?”. 122