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Sea-level heliport 'would make almost no difference'

The Isles of Scilly Steamship Group has claimed that "detailed weather analysis" shows that a sea-level heliport in Penzance would make almost no difference to transport resilience to the Isles of Scilly.

The company said that comparative data from Island Helicopters, the new passenger helicopter service from Land’s End Airport which started in May, shows that only half a day’s flying would have potentially been gained by a heliport in Penzance in the last two months when compared to nearby Land’s End Airport. This is equivalent to "a few extra hours of flying a month".

A detailed analysis of a sample year, 2016, also "shows that a sea level operation would add just four extra flyable days across the entire year when compared to Land’s End Airport".

A Steamship Group spokesman said: "With our scheduled helicopter service up and running from Land’s End our experienced pilots - whose experience spans North Sea, air ambulance, police and VIP operations - have been able to do a comparative study using real-time data and flying conditions. They have concluded that the weather benefits of Penzance Heliport are borderline at best.

“Snatching a few hours of extra flying here and there is hardly a dramatic improvement to resilience and it’s no surprise that people in Penzance are questioning whether the noise, health and environmental impacts they fear from a new heliport are a price worth paying for just a handful of extra flights per year.”

The ISSG recently said that its analysis of a petition sent to Cornwall Council in May with more than 11,000 signatures found that just 3.2% of residents local to Penzance had signed it, "despite ongoing claims from supporters that the heliport has the support of the vast majority of Penzance residents".

It also hit back at recent claims (Western Morning News, June 30th) by heliport backer Robert Dorrien-Smith that “almost everybody on Scilly has signed [the petition]”, saying that "an analysis of postcodes against every signature on the petition shows that 833 people with valid postcodes from the Isles of Scilly signed it", representing 38% of a population of 2,203.

Its analysis of Cornwall Council’s planning portal data also revealed that "the location of nearly three quarters (2,355) of Penzance Heliport supporters registered on the site cannot be determined".

The company added: "Meanwhile, opposition in Penzance to the controversial heliport has been growing, with 131 objections now lodged on Cornwall Council’s planning portal, many in relation to noise, impact on public health and the environment - an increase of 107% in just three weeks."

Cornwall Council is holding a public meeting at 6pm at St John’s Hall in Penzance on Monday July 23rd to hear views from local people.

The ISSG said yesterday that its EGNOS satellite landing technology should be fully operational at Land's End Airport by 2019.


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