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Pretoria - KwaZulu-Natal’s King Shaka International Airport has made great strides in protecting and preserving the environment around it.

“Since the airport become operational, we have sought to uphold and exemplify Airports Company South Africa’s sound environmental management framework, which is in line with global benchmarks,” the airport’s spokesperson, Colin Naidoo, said on Wednesday.

The airport has been operational for three years.

This as the world today marks World Environment Day, an annual event that is aimed at being the biggest and widely celebrated global day for positive environmental action.

Celebration of the day began in 1972 and has grown to become one of the main vehicles through which the United Nations stimulates worldwide awareness of the environment and encourages political attention and action.

King Shaka is ACSA’s first green-field project located north of Durban, in an area known for its rich biodiversity. The development of the airport was premised on it not disturbing the fauna and flora around it.

Innovative practices had to be adopted to ensure that business performance is aligned with good governance, social and environmental responsibilities.

“The airport has adopted and implemented several innovative initiatives across all key areas, with the overarching objective being to ensure that, as one of South Africa’s three busiest [airports] with annual passenger traffic of between five and six million, its operations do not negatively impact on the communities around it,” said Naidoo.

During its construction, the airport operations’ impact on bird life was considered, with a ‘world first’ bird radar system that is directly linked to the control tower to mitigate bird strikes, being put in place.

Since its installation, barn swallow strikes have declined from about 10 in 2010 when the airport became operational, to none as of April 2013. –