Remote UK island colony of St Helena to get airport

Napoleon Napoleon died on St Helena in 1821

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A remote British Island where the French Emperor Napoleon was exiled is to get an airport, the International Development Secretary has announced.

Until now, St Helena in the southern Atlantic ocean has only been accessible by sea.

The government previously announced plans for an airport in 2005, but these were put on hold in 2008.

After the airport opens in 2015, those who want to visit the island by air will have to go to South Africa first.

The £200 million airport will be built by South African company Basil Read and financed by the UK government.

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

Map showing St Helena

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

It is hoped building the airport will raise the number of visitors each year from around 900 to 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.

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

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