Last update:
2019-04-23

New airport on the island of Barbuda, Antigua and Barbuda

Construction of new airport in Barbuda began without residents’ approval, while they were forcibly evacuated after the island was devastated by Hurricane Irma. Forest land used for farming and hunting and hosting rare species has been destroyed.


Description:

On the night of 6th September 2017 Hurricane Irma, the most powerful hurricane ever recorded over the Atlantic Ocean, an unprecedented Category 5, made landfall on the small Caribbean island of Barbuda. 185 miles-per-hour winds wreaked havoc. Land was flooded, homes were left without roofs and walls or completely flattened and the island’s road, energy and communications infrastructure destroyed. Two days later all of Barbuda’s 1,800 residents were forcibly evacuated, ferried to Antigua which only suffered minor damage.

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:New airport on the island of Barbuda, Antigua and Barbuda
Country:Antigua and Barbuda
State or province:Barbuda
Location of conflict:Codrington
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Infrastructure and Built Environment
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Land acquisition conflicts
Deforestation
Ports and airport projects
Building materials extraction (quarries, sand, gravel)
Specific commodities:Land
limestone
Project Details and Actors
Project details

In December 2016 the government of Antigua & Barbuda stated that it would begin inviting bids for a contract to construct a new international airport on the island of Barbuda in the first quarter of 2017. Prime Minister Gaston Browne said that funding for the new airport had so far come from private investors, totaling up to US$14 million.[14]

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Type of populationRural
Affected Population:1,638
Start of the conflict:08/11/2017
Relevant government actors:Government of Antigua and Barbuda
Antigua and Barbuda Airports Authority (ABAA)
Development Control Authority (DCA)
Department of the Environment (DoE)
Barbuda Ministry of Justice and Legal Affairs
The Attorney General of Antigua and Barbuda
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Barbuda Silent No More https://www.facebook.com/barbudasilentnomore/
Barbuda Research Complex - http://barbudaresearchcomplex.weebly.com/
Global Legal Action Network (GLAN) - https://www.glanlaw.org/
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
Indigenous groups or traditional communities
International ejos
Neighbours/citizens/communities
Pastoralists
Social movements
Local scientists/professionals
Fisher people
Forms of mobilization:Development of a network/collective action
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Appeals/recourse to economic valuation of the environment
Crowdfunder to support legal challenge agaisnt construction of the airport
Impacts
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
Potential: Air pollution, Food insecurity (crop damage), Global warming, Noise pollution, Soil contamination, Oil spills, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion
Health ImpactsVisible: Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide
Potential: Other Health impacts
Other Health impactsIllnesses caused by pollutants emitted by aircraft
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Militarization and increased police presence, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Potential: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Displacement, Social problems (alcoholism, prostitution, etc..)
Outcome
Project StatusUnknown
Conflict outcome / response:Court decision (victory for environmental justice)
Project temporarily suspended
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Not Sure
Briefly explain:Construction of the new airport on the island of Barbuda commenced without consulting residents and the requisite planning and environmental impact procedures were not followed. An injunction halting the airport project was granted on 2nd August 2018, but lifted a few weeks later on 11th September.
Sources & Materials
Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

[14] Barbuda airport, seaport and airways in 2017, Antigua Observer, 7 December 2016
[click to view]

[15] Airport work is stopped, barbudaful, 3 August 2018
[click to view]

[8] #BarbudaVoices, One year after Irma, Barbuda, 21 September 2018
[click to view]

[2] Antigua and Barbuda: Barbudans Fighting for Land Rights, Human Rights Watch, 12 July 2018
[click to view]

[3] Barbuda Silent No More
[click to view]

[4] In Barbuda, residents worry communal ownership will disappear, PBS Newshour, 6 February 2018
[click to view]

[5] Barbudans take legal action against Government of Antigua and Barbuda for unlawful development of an international airport, Garden Court Chambers, 9 July 2018
[click to view]

[6] Barbuda airport injunction could be costly – PM, Antigua Observer, 22 August 2018
[click to view]

[7] Plans for airport on Caribbean island of Barbuda face legal challenge, The Guardian, 2 August 2018
[click to view]

[9] Gov’t seeking damages in Barbuda airport case, Antigua Observer, 28 September 2018
[click to view]

[10] ‘Slow pace’ on Barbuda airport Runway, Antigua Observer, 16 October, 2018
[click to view]

[13] Displaced Barbudans Resisting Land Grab, Global Legal Action Network (GLAN)
[click to view]

[11] After Irma, Disaster Capitalism Threatens Cultural Heritage in Barbuda, North American Congress on Latin America (NACLA), 11 February 2019
[click to view]

[12] Global Legal Action Network joins fight against construction of Barbuda’s airport, Antigua Observer, 19 March 2019
[click to view]

[1] Land grab looms in hurricane-wrecked Barbuda, and what is taking shape is not just an airport, Global Anti-Aerotropolis Movement (GAAM), 21 December 2017
[click to view]

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

John Mussington took reporters to see where land is being cleared for a new international airport, PBS Newshour, 6 February 2018
[click to view]

Barbuda: Islanders still homeless after hurricane; land bulldozed for airport, Channel 4 News, 20 November 2017
[click to view]

Barbuda resident John Mussington reports that a huge area of land being cleared and parcelled up and what is taking shape is not just an airport, Mohammid Walbrook, December 2017
[click to view]

#BarbudaVoices, One year after Irma, aerial footage of land cleared for airport and runway construction, Barbuda, 21 September 2018
[click to view]

The Barbuda Silent No More movement was formed after the island was devastated by Hurricane Irma, working to strengthen islanders’voices as they strive to protect communal land rights, determine their own future and conserve Barbuda’s heritage, culture and environment
[click to view]

Other documents

New Barbuda airport runway Virgin forest land used for farming and hunting and a habitat for rare species destroyed for runway. Source: resortconsultants.com
[click to view]

Land bulldozed for new airport Land was bulldozed for a new airport on Barbuda without consulting residents. Source: Antigua News Room
[click to view]

Airport before hospitals Woman holds sign reading ‘Airport before hospitals?’ at protest against repeal of Barbuda Land Act. Source: Thalia Maragh @thaliamaragh
[click to view]

Aerial view of new airport Aerial view of Barbuda showing scale of initial phase of the airport runway and its forested location. Source: The Global Legal Action Network (GLAN) https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/save-barbudas-land-and-forest/
[click to view]

Barbuda protester image Image used for GLAN crowdfunder. Photo: Thomson Reuters Foundation/ Claudio Accheri
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Rose Bridger, Stay Grounded, email: [email protected]
Last update23/04/2019
Comments
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