Building a new wharf in Rupert’s Bay will bring both benefits and burdens to St Helena.
They include a heavy increase in traffic in Rupert’s Valley, bringing noise and dust – listed as a “major adverse” impact. A speed limit of 10 mph has been proposed.
Airport construction firm Basil Read has asked to be allowed to work extended hours on the wharf, because of the need to complete it within a single season, before heavy seas arrive. Permission for longer working days would be considered case-by-case.
The effects of noise and vibration from blasting at the quarry up the valley would be eased by giving residents 24 hours’ warning, with inspections to guard against damage to homes.
The impact assessment for the project warns of possible major damage to the historic military defences across the bay – known as the Lines.
But measures to protect the Lines, and a bridge over the Rupert’s Run, have already proved successful during the construction of the temporary wharf built in 2012.
The new design is said to offer better protection to heritage features.
The report also warns of a low risk that workers could be killed or injured by a rockfall.
But it points out that most work will be carried out on the breakwater, away from the cliff face – making it safer than working on the wharf in Jamestown.
Loose rocks should be dislodged before construction starts.
The report also warns of commercial fishermen being unable to land catches at the Shears at times during the construction period. Jamestown could be used instead, with compensation paid for the cost of transport to the freezer facility.
But there are benefits too – including employment opportunities for Saints. Some might be trained in underwater construction techniques.
Highly skilled jobs operating cargo lighters will be lost – but the cost of cargo operations will go down dramatically. The new port would create some employment.
Larger fishing vessels would be able to land catches at Rupert’s Bay, and it could provide an alternative landing place for cruise ship passengers.
Freeing up space at Jamestown wharf could also mean better facilities for yachtsmen.
Saints will still be able to use the popular barbecue and swimming area at Rupert’s.
Water quality for swimmers might even be improved as a result of changes in the water current, meaning any pollution is washed out to sea.
Measures will also be taken to reduce litter gathering on the beach.
The new wharf might also be good for marine life, creating new habitat for tiny creatures such as sea slugs.
Read the full planning statement here