ISSG: 'Our door is open for helicopter talks'
The Steamship Group has said that its door remains open for a discussion about a possible helicopter service from Land's End.
The Judicial Review process instigated by the company came to an end in September when Cornwall Council and Penzance Heliport Ltd agreed that the latter would submit an amended planning application. The High Court then quashed the original planning consent.
At last week's Listening Event on St Mary's, chairman Andrew May said that the Steamship Group is not convinced the route between the Isles of Scilly and the mainland can sustain another dedicated airport in west Cornwall.
He told This is Scilly News: "Tresco have said they’re going resubmit their application, we have said why don’t you come and talk to us about flying from Land’s End? We’re still trying to have that discussion with Tresco but also with the transport forum and all interested parties, people representing the islands and west Cornwall. We’ve talked to Cornwall Council, the Duchy, the Local Enterprise Partnership, our local Council, Tresco and us.
"We just need to talk about it. It’s not as simple as other parties report. It’s got to tie in with the Destination Management Plan and a vision of how many people we want traveling to and from the islands, the seasonality, the restaurants, the infrastructure, the scheduled bus service, taxis, boats, all of these things are linked. Whoever operates the ferry, the planes, the helicopter, these things are all interrelated in terms of viability and sustainability of the islands so we’ve just got to get it right.
"Our position is our door is open and we’re willing to talk about it. We absolutely understand that the Penzance site has some benefits and we understand that Land’s End has some benefits. Land's End has some negatives but actually what isn’t talked about is that Penzance has some negatives. We need to weigh all that up and see what’s best for the route as a whole. It’s not about the Steamship Group being protectionist, it’s not about competition or anti-competition because we would be willing to facilitate competition from Land’s End."
On what happens next, he said: "If the backers of the heliport scheme submit a new application, of course the first thing we’ll do is look at it. Practically speaking, if it’s for a heliport in Penzance and many of the same issues are there, at that point we would consider our response and our engagement in the planning process.
"At the same time, we very much hope we can talk to all those people involved."