Dorrien-Smith: 'Heliport decision is start of a new era'
Robert Dorrien-Smith has said he hopes today's decision by Cornwall Council to grant approval for a new heliport in Penzance will "mark the start of a new era for transport to the Isles of Scilly".
Cllr Dorrien-Smith, from Penzance Heliport Ltd, thanked everyone who has supported the project over the last two years.
He said: “We hope today’s decision marks the start of a new era for transport to the Isles of Scilly; an era of improved resilience, of increased capacity, of improved accessibility, of genuine competition, and a new era of honest co-operation for the good of the islands.
“We want to thank everyone who has supported us over the past two years. Today’s result is testament to the overwhelming public support for this project, and to the hard work, dedication and perseverance of so many people.
"To everybody who has signed the petition, cast their vote in the independent survey, submitted comments to Cornwall Council, or simply told us of their support for this project - thank you.
“We now look forward to moving ahead with this vital project which will make the Isles of Scilly a better place to live, visit and work.”
Cornwall Council has received more supportive comments for the project than for any planning application in history, with over 3,500 messages of support – some 94% of comments. A recent independent survey of islanders showed 97% support for Penzance Heliport among residents.
The project has also received support from Penzance’s Town Council, Chamber of Commerce, Business Improvement District, Tourism Association, and Regeneration Partnership, as well as the Council of the Isles of Scilly, Duchy of Cornwall, Visit Cornwall, Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership, Friends of Isles of Scilly Transport and the Islands’ Partnership, which represents around 300 businesses on the Isles of Scilly.
Penzance Heliport will operate up to 17 return flights per day throughout the year. The majority of flights will operate to St Mary’s and the service will also reinstate a direct connection to the island of Tresco.
Flights will operate seven days per week, but the Penzance Heliport team has offered to reduce its proposed Sunday flying schedule by half, to a maximum of four return flights, to minimise the impact on local residents.
The service will operate using the state-of-the-art AW139 helicopter, with seating for 15 passengers and a 20 kg luggage allowance. The flight to the islands will take 15 minutes.
The helicopter service will be operated by Sloane Helicopters, whose high profile clients include air ambulance charities and the Ministry of Defence.
The heliport site in Penzance, off Jelbert Way close to the former heliport site, is located adjacent to the A30 and one mile from Penzance railway station, providing onward connectivity to the rest of the country.
Penzance Heliport Ltd has estimated that the project will unlock £31 million of private investment in the Isles of Scilly, stimulate £10 million of economic activity in West Cornwall and provide around 30 permanent jobs.
Some local residents have raised concerns over the impact of the heliport on health and wellbeing. Cornwall Council’s Public Health Team informed Councillors they “do not consider the development to pose a risk to the health and wellbeing of residents located near the proposed site”.
Penzance Heliport Ltd said it is keen to continue to engage with the local community and has asked Cornwall Council to include the setting up of a Local Stakeholders Group as part of the planning consent.
Meanwhile, the Isles of Scilly Steamship Group has released a short statement in response to the news, with a spokesman saying: "A spokesman for the Isles of Scilly Steamship Group said: “We note the outcome of the Strategic Planning Committee and will comment in due course once we have had the opportunity to review in detail the committee’s deliberations and decision.”