The Isles of Scilly Steamship Group has called for a "major consultation" on the future of transport links to the Isles of Scilly after planning permission for a heliport in Penzance was allegedly withdrawn.
According to a statement from the company, the decision by Cornwall Council followed the granting of an application for a Judicial Review.
Steamship Group Chairman Andrew May said: “We recognise that customers want enhanced and more reliable transport links to the islands and we hope that today’s decision will act as a catalyst for a much wider debate about the need for an agreed plan to achieve this.
“The Steamship Company is committed to a major schedule of investment, including a replacement for the Scillonian III, and would welcome an opportunity for the whole community to work together to deliver an affordable, sustainable and reliable transport solution for Scilly that includes a new helicopter service.”
He added: "Neither the islands nor Penzance can afford a repeat of the collapsed helicopter service that we saw five years ago and we all need to look at what’s in the best long-term interests of the islands.
“Now is a real opportunity for everyone involved in this debate to come together to create a clearer vision for the islands’ transport needs, including a sustainable helicopter service that many people want to see. We are ready and willing to play our part in that by helping to facilitate helicopters from Land’s End Airport. We have already offered discounted charges and a service level agreement to ensure transparent and fair operational standards.”
The Steamship Group statement goes on to say that the call for a consultation "has the support of business leaders who say there needs to be a clear transport plan for the islands".
Islands' Partnership Executive Director David Jackson said: “With the islands embarking on a major study of what’s needed to sustain and grow its visitor economy, it is a timely opportunity to use this process to help inform the debate. However, what is important for now is that we do everything possible to encourage and secure continued investment in all forms of transport including the commitment to a potential new helicopter service. A more resilient and sustainable transport system remains vital to the future of these islands."
Kim Conchie, Chief Executive of the Cornwall Chamber of Commerce, said: “I have followed the helicopter debate closely and believe the time has come to get round the table and look at the bigger question of how to sustain a remote island community for future generations.”
Penzance Heliport Ltd announced yesterday (September 13th) that it will submit an amended planning application in the coming weeks.
It was also revealed yesterday that Steamship Company Chief Executive Rob Goldsmith is to step down.