|▲ Protest by Seongsan-eup Onpyeong-ri residents in early 2017 against the second airport (Photo: Jeju Federation of Environmental Movement)|
As Jeju International Airport in northern Jeju became too saturated, the Jeju Provincial Government began a plan to build a second airport in the southeastern part of the island.
However, the decision has faced strong opposition from residents due to the authorities’ unidirectional procedures and the concern that Jeju’s distinct community and culture may be harmed due to the excessive influx of outsiders. Additionally, worries about environmental damage have led the government to reconsider the feasibility of the airport.
The Second Airport Feasibility Reassessment Committee explained the result of its fourth meeting on Nov. 1 at Jeju Welcome Center. At the meeting, over tourism was a key point of contention.
The committee discussed whether the demand for the airport and the required infrastructure provisions were adequately investigated before the second airport site was confirmed. It was also argued whether the standards and methods used to choose Seongsan-eup as the locations for the airport were valid.
The debate surrounding the estimate that there will be 45 million airport users by 2035 was especially fierce. In 2015, when the site for the second airport was selected, over tourism was not such a significant topic. However, global awareness of the issue of over tourism has increased in the years since and has positioned it as a crucial matter in deciding the viability of the second airport.
Chair Kang Yeong-jin of the Committee concluded, “The demand projection, as well as the size and the method of expanding the airport infrastructure, will be discussed in relation to the effect on the environment and local characteristics.”
Vice-chair Park Chan-sik commented, “We also discussed whether we must continue based on the projection that 45 million people will use the airport, or consider overtourism and the environmental, economic, ecological, and social stability issues that are already an issue with the 28 to 29 million people that use the current airport.
The committee also reported that the original decision discarded other alternatives to the second airport. The reassessment process for the feasibility of the site of the second airport started in July and will be completed by the middle of this month. However, the results will not be announced until the committee has completed its review.
The committee is in charge of monitoring research and discovering important issues. The feasibility reassessment will be administered objectively and fairly. The group will meet every week to review the results of the reassessment. The committee’s activity is scheduled to continue until the middle of December but can be extended for up to two more months.
The committee is made up of 14 members; seven who were recommended by the opposition committee and seven who were recommended by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, and Transport. The final recommendation will be determined by a two-thirds vote where two-thirds of the members are present.
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