Remote British Island St Helena To Finally Get Airport

Remote British Island Associated With Napoleon To Finally Get Airport

A remote British territory forever associated with the emperor Napoleon is to finally get an airport.

But Britons who want to visit the island of St Helena by air will have to go to South Africa first.

To be built by South African company Basil Read, the £200 million airport on the tiny, southern Atlantic island will be financed by the UK Government, International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell said.

Mr Mitchell said that in real terms the agreed contract for design and construction of the airport represented a saving of 20% on prices negotiated in 2008, when the project was put on hold.

In the long term it will help to reduce the island's dependency on annual British aid, which reached £26 million year last.

Until now, St Helena has only been accessible by sea. Building the airport will raise the number of annual visitors from around 900 to about 30,000.

It is planned that the airport will be finished in 2015 - the 200th anniversary of the arrival of Napoleon following his defeat at the Battle of Waterloo.

The French emperor had surrendered to the British and had hoped to live the life of a country gentleman in southern England. But the British were determined that the man who had plunged Europe into more than 20 years of war would never again threaten the continent's peace.

So Napoleon, with a "court" of only a handful of people, was exiled to St Helena, with the island being constantly patrolled to ensure there was no chance of escape.

He died on the island in 1821, with his body eventually being reburied in Paris.


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