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MP 'has been working on Appledore ship idea'


Isles of Scilly MP Derek Thomas has said he has been "engaged on the idea" of building a new ship at Appledore for some time.

Asked to comment on Friends of Isles of Scilly Transport's suggestion that the construction of a new ferry to serve the Isles of Scilly could save the shipyard from closure, he told Radio Scilly that he has already had meetings about the idea, including with Transport Minister Nusrat Ghani.

He said: "Marian [Berkeley]'s husband Tony raised the Appledore issue with me and I also discussed it with [Transport head] Nigel Blackler from Cornwall Council and took the plans for the ship that was posed back in 2009 as part of the Option A to Nus Ghani and her officials at the end of last month.

"Her direction was very clear and I took that back to both the Council and also the new Transport Board that's been set up. The fact is that the Government don't and can't commission a ship or even attempt to favour one boatyard over another, but what Nus Ghani has made clear is that if the Council of the Isles of Scilly or Cornwall Council came forward, or even the new Transport Board came forward, with a proposal for building a ship, the Government could then help the funding of that. And she made that offer actually back in April of this year when she asked both the Steamship Company and the Isles of Scilly Council what money they need to resolve both the freight and the passenger ferry situation.

"So this is something we've been engaged on for some time but the process is important, the Government can't just turn up at Appledore and say build this ship, it needs to be a clear business case from someone who can take the responsibility for it. The Transport Board have met since then and Nus Ghani is planning a visit to the Isles of Scilly in the early Spring.... So we've been working on this very closely."

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