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FRIST: ISSG 'not that interested' in Appledore idea

Friends of Isles of Scilly Transport (FRIST) co-ordinator Marian Berkeley has said she does not think the Isles of Scilly Steamship Group is interested in building a new ferry at Appledore.

The community group recently suggested that the construction of a new vessel to serve the islands could save the north Devon shipyard, where the current Scillonian was built. Engineers Babcock recently confirmed the closure of Appledore, which has 200 employees.

Speaking to Radio Scilly, Marian said that she does not think the Steamship Group is in any rush to build a new vessel.

Asked whether the proposal includes the company, she said: "It certainly could do, they are the obvious client, but I don’t think from what I’ve heard that they are that interested. I have my private suspicions that in fact they are not rushing to replace Scillonian III with a new vessel.

"Indeed the chairman said some while ago before the Route Partnership finished that they could easily find a suitable second-hand vessel. Well we’ve been working with big ship brokers and others to explore the possibility of second-hand vessels and there are truly none which would fit the route."

Revealing more about FRIST's idea, she said: "Talk of a replacement vessel has been on the cards for a long while. In fact Cornwall Council had plans drawn up so we’ve got those plans out of the drawer and looked at them again and [are] discussing it with people from Appledore.

"It doesn’t necessarily have to be precisely that vessel, although having consulted very widely we think that the monohull design with room for freight and passengers is the preferred option, certainly by transport users. And we’re just at the initial stage of discussing that with anybody interested. Cornwall Council still have the plans on hand, they took a long time really to recover from the rejection of the Route Partnership proposal, as did we. But we shall see."

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".


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