Steamship Group responds to 'abuse of power' claims
The Isles of Scilly Steamship Group has responded after Penzance Heliport Ltd described their decision to mount a judicial review as “an abuse of power on a very serious scale”.
Construction of the replacement heliport has now been paused while a judge examines the lawfulness of Cornwall Council’s unanimous decision to grant planning permission for the project.
Robert Dorrien-Smith earlier accused the Steamship Group of “an anti-competitive action" in launching the review, prompting a response from ISSG chairman Andrew May and CEO Rob Goldsmith.
Mr May said: “We have mounted this legal challenge because we consider that Cornwall Council’s decision was flawed in its assessment of Penzance heliport in a number of important areas.
"We are not against a helicopter operation and do not have a “monopoly” in transport services as is claimed - the market is open to any operator wishing to operate sea or air services to the Isles."
He added: "Our primary concern relates to the serious socio-economic consequences of creating a new heliport and the effect the proposal will have on the longterm sustainability of the wider transport network and future investment in it, including a replacement for the Scillonian III ferry."
Rob Goldsmith said: “We recently reiterated our offer to Tresco to consider using Land’s End Airport as a base for a competing helicopter service including heavily discounted fees compared with the current rate paid by our fixed-wing Skybus operation, and a service level agreement to ensure that any helicopter operation would not be disadvantaged.
"We believe this would be better for the islands’ transport system as a whole and ultimately save the customer money. Unfortunately they have rejected our offer and chosen instead to press ahead with Penzance heliport despite the substantial costs and risks of setting up a new site, and the potential impact on the wider transport system.”