Raise the runway (Martin Gray)

As we all know the runway at Sumburgh Airport heads into the sea – the trouble is the runway is too close to the sea!

If it were raised by three metres and reinforced concrete at the edges with tarred surface to the middle the damage would be greatly reduced.

That would be the proper way to spend for the long term. The hot engines and the splash of sea water is a danger to aircraft come winter and that’s where we are at.

Martin Gray


Add Your Comment
  • Douglas Young

    • July 30th, 2013 13:22

    The runway height is not a problem, a concrete tank was constructed to hold infill and surrounded by stone blocks as armour. Without steel piles the sea will erode the bed at the seat of the concrete and the infill is removed. A tanking liner needs to be put in before the infill to prevent this.
    Were I a journalist I would ask to see the design drawings, and whether the liner was specified, whether it was installed and if not who authorised this. You then have the party responsible for £10 million quid wasted on remedial works.
    Over to the local media I think.

  • Johan Adamson

    • July 30th, 2013 14:18

    I was lead to believe that the runway has eroded because they tried to save money and decided not to fix the runway properly with a substance which would have stopped the rocks washing away because it was the more expensive option. So now they are spending 10 times as much as that original option they were given.

  • Bjorn Sandison

    • August 1st, 2013 20:37

    This seems like a pretty pie-in-the-sky notion, to raise the runway by 3 metres. I can’t see how this would either save money or make the airport more useable in the short or long term.
    Just to throw some figures at the idea – the east/west runway is 1500m long by 45m wide. So to raise it by 3 metres would need 202,500 cubic metres of infill, approximately 324,000 tonnes of material. You’ll also need 75m each side of the centreline to provide a run-off area, so that brings it up to 675,000 cubic metres of infill, which is roughly 1,080,000 tonnes of material. That’s somewhere in the region of 54,000 truck loads. It would be interesting to see the state of the road network after that lot has been hauled over it! Assuming a fairly conservative £200 per load of infill, this alone would cost nearly £11million, already exceeding the existing repair cost.
    This doesn’t include the concrete that would have to surround it. If it had a 3m wide concrete retaining wall all the way round that’s 28,000 cubic metres, around 4,000 ready mix truck loads. Concrete at about £100 per cube is nearly £3million, so we’re up to £13million and haven’t even looked at repairing the road network which will have been decimated by this construction.
    It also doesn’t get rid of the initial problem of the ends of it being in the sea, and the risk of it washing away, and also where would the public road go?
    As for the thought that being 3 metres higher off the ground would keep you clear of the ‘splash of sea water’ – have you been in the teeth of a Shetland gale before?

    Remind me – how would raising it three metres be better in the long term?!

  • John Moncrieff

    • August 2nd, 2013 8:35

    All very well raising the runway, but that would make the runway nearer the clouds – planes have enough trouble with low cloud as it is.


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