FRIST: 'New Scillonian could save Appledore'
Friends of Isles of Scilly Transport (FRIST) has suggested that the construction of a new ferry to serve the Isles of Scilly could save Appledore shipyard, where the current Scillonian was built.
The campaign group, which is led by Cllr Marian Berkeley, urged MPs to "come up with a solution to provide a new ferry for the Isles of Scilly and preserve jobs in Appledore".
Engineer Babcock recently confirmed the closure of the north Devon shipyard, which has 200 employees, despite the offer of a £60m rescue package by the Ministry of Defence.
Read FRIST's statement in full below:
The Friends of Isles of Scilly Transport (FRIST) has called on the Members of Parliament concerned (Derek Thomas MP, St Ives and Penzance) and Geoffrey Cox QC MP (Torridge and West Devon including Appledore) to seek support from Nusrat Ghani MP, Minister for Shipping, to come up with a solution to provide a new ferry for the Isles of Scilly and preserve jobs in Appledore.
Scilly needs a new ship to replace the aging 41 year old Scillonian III which was built at Appledore Shipyard, with the help of a Government interest free loan, and launched in 1977. Appledore Shipyard is now threatened with closure with the loss of hundreds of skilled engineering jobs. What better way to preserve highly skilled jobs and retain the shipbuilding tradition than to have a new ferry built in the same yard?
FRIST co-ordinator Marian Berkeley said: "It is particularly striking that Appledore Shipyard, a significant icon in the maritime history of the South West and key local employer, is being allowed to fall silent with little protest when there is an urgent need for a purpose designed replacement ferry able to maintain the lifeline link between Penzance and the Isles of Scilly.’
Fully approved plans for a new ferry to provide an all year around service were prepared only a few years ago for the Route Partnership – a collaborative project between Cornwall Council, the Council of the Isles of Scilly and other stakeholders... The estimated cost of this ferry was in the order of £20m, very similar to the estimated redundancy payments due to the Appledore workforce. Why not invest the money on something that will benefit Islanders and North Devon in the long term?"
FRIST aims to achieve affordable, reliable all year round lifeline transport links between the Isles of Scilly and the mainland "to sustain the community and the tourism based economy upon which the community depends".