Further information to support the Penzance Heliport planning application has been submitted to Cornwall Council today (January 12th).
The planning authority will now re-assess the application following a legal challenge on the original planning consent by the Isles of Scilly Steamship Group.
Penzance Heliport Ltd said that the amended application shows the project will “unlock £31m of investment in the islands, provide a £9m boost to West Cornwall, and increase visitor numbers through additional transport capacity and reliability. Enhanced environmental and heritage assessments also provide further detail on information provided in the original application."
Robert Dorrien-Smith, who is leading the project, said: “The legal challenge to the original planning consent, whilst frustrating, has actually allowed us to strengthen our case with new evidence on the importance of this project for West Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.
“The additional information we are providing today proves the importance of this project to the future growth of the islands, and shows beyond doubt that Penzance is the optimum base for the service.”
A statement from Penzance Heliport Ltd said that new evidence from some of Scilly’s biggest businesses has identified £31m of investment in the islands that is currently on hold, pending improvements to the transport infrastructure. The investments would encourage more visitors and provide more than 70 full-time equivalent jobs.
St Mary’s business owner Clifford Freeman said: “The reintroduction of a helicopter service will help grow the visitor market and encourage further investment in the islands. I recently found myself reluctantly holding back investment plans pending a better transport system.”
The islands’ tourism agency has set an ambitious growth target of an additional 20,000 visitors per year by 2019. Analysis shows this target can only be met through significant increases in transport capacity and weather resilience that Penzance Heliport Ltd believes a helicopter service from Penzance can deliver.
Information from aviation experts shows the proposed site, at Jelbert Way in Penzance, will enable helicopters to fly in at least 40% lower cloud than from Land’s End Airport, helping improve the reliability of the islands’ transport network.
Robert Dorrien-Smith commented: “Whilst the rest of Cornwall’s tourism economy is seeing significant growth, the islands are seeing virtual stagnation; in fact last year, air passenger numbers fell by more than 6,000 people, taking us back to the level we were at in 2014. In other words, we are going backwards.
“People simply will not risk the travel disruption we experience, year after year. On a yearly basis, flying from Land’s End Airport is disrupted on at least one day in every four, and in the winter, that airport is our chief link with the mainland. With no ferry backup, it’s a pretty dire situation; the results were seen again this Christmas, when a Dunkirk spirit and Scilly’s own fleet of little boats was the only way on or off the islands.
“We need a transport system that has the capacity and resilience to serve the needs of these islands throughout the year, and that is why we are totally committed to this project and to Penzance.
“We hope we are now able to move on and work alongside the Steamship Group and others to provide a better, stronger and more resilient transport service for Scilly.”
The reinstated helicopter service will connect Penzance with St Mary’s and Tresco, providing an additional, year-round travel option for islanders and visitors.
Cornwall Council granted unanimous planning consent for the project in February 2016 after the planning application gained the greatest volume of support the council has ever received. The Isles of Scilly Steamship Group, which currently operates all passenger and freight transport to the islands, launched a series of legal challenges to the project, including a judicial review.
A petition supporting a new heliport in Penzance now has more than 10,000 signatures.
Once the additional information has been processed by Cornwall Council it will be available at www.cornwall.gov.uk/planning reference PA16/09346.