Friends of Isles of Scilly Transport have called on speakers in tomorrow's House of Lords debate on the future of the Appledore shipyard to support the building of a new ferry for Scilly.
Lord Tony Berkeley (left), who is married to Isles of Scilly Councillor Marian Berkeley, has tabled a debate on 'Progress on the tendering process for building five new Type 31e frigates and what impact this process will have on the future of the Appledore shipyard'.
He urged speakers to back FRIST's suggestion that a new ferry to serve the islands could save the shipyard, where the current Scillonian was built.
Read FRIST's statement below:
FRIST, the representative body for transport users in the Isles of Scilly (FRIENDS of ISLES OF SCILLY TRANSPORT) urges all speakers in the House of Lords Debate on Thursday 20 December 2018 to support the proposal to keep Appledore Shipyard open by building a new ferry for the Isles of Scilly.
An order for this ferry could help save 200 jobs at the iconic shipyard at Appledore which otherwise is set to close in March 2019, and get a new ship for Scilly in service at the earliest opportunity.
The ship design was completed and approved by the Marine and Coastguard Agency before the Route Partnership scheme was cancelled in 2012, partly because the sole provider of transport services, the Isles of Scilly Steamship Group (IOSSG), argued that it could find a suitable second hand ferry.
The Route Partnership project was widely supported including by Cornwall Council and the Council of Isles of Scilly as well as the Duchy of Cornwall and transport users and customers, and other agencies. The project not only provided the design for a passenger and freight vessel that would operate all year round, but also harbour improvements, notably at St Mary’s where the quay extension was completed. The ship was designed to offer better sea-keeping conditions and greater comfort to passengers on the route.
Six years on, there is no sign of the Company producing a suitable vessel to replace the 41 year old Scillonian III and the freight ship the Gry Maritha, and still refuses to offer any service improvement for the winter or capacity improvement in the peak summer months, causing severe dissatisfaction and business loss to passenger and freight customers.
FRIST asks that all members of the Isles of Scilly Transport Board put the community and customers first, and support the proposal for a new ship to be built at Appledore to the general design that had widespread acceptance from the community.
This must link in with a new shipyard operator at Appledore to replace Babcock who leave at the end of March 2019. FRIST, along with many others, is supporting the owner Langham Industries in this search, and is happy to report at least one expression of strong interest.
FRIST urges ministers to support the continuing ship building operation at Appledore by providing some financial support for the construction of a new dedicated passenger and freight ferry for Scilly to ensure that it meets the needs of islanders and operates all year round.