By Will Lethbridge
Cornwall Council has granted planning permission for a heliport that will reinstate a helicopter service between the Isles of Scilly and Penzance.
Councillors voted unanimously in favour for the heliport and the decision was made in just 30 minutes.
The new Heliport will be built at Jelbert Way, adjacent to the site of the former heliport at Eastern Green where British International Helicopters operated from for 48 years until passenger flights stopped in October 2012.
The service will operate from Penzance to the islands of St Mary’s and Tresco, and it’s hoped flights will commence in spring 2018. The £2 million scheme, which is expected to create around 30 permanent jobs, was approved after Officers reported the proposal would bring “significant benefits for local businesses and visitors.”
Robert Dorrien-Smith, one of the main investors in the project, commented: “Naturally, we are delighted. Today’s decision marks the start of the project that we believe will bring about a revival for the islands and dramatic improvements for their residents, businesses and visitors.”
Cornwall Council received over 2,600 messages of support for the project – the most it has ever received for a planning application.
Robert added: “The volume – but also the content – of the public support demonstrates without a doubt the importance of this project to the future of tourism on Scilly, and in Cornwall as a whole. We want to take this opportunity to thank all those who shared often very personal reasons for supporting the reinstatement of this lifeline service.”
Responding to the news, West Cornwall MP Derek Thomas, said: “I'm pleased the Council has recognised the opportunity the investment of the heliport presents for West Cornwall and Scilly.
“We are now seeing significant investment in and around Penzance and the addition of a new helicopter service is further evidence of the confidence people have in the future prospects of West Cornwall.”
Penzance Town Councillor Dick Cliffe added: “This is a strategically important development for the Isles of Scilly and it provides important economic benefits for Penzance.
“The approval of Penzance Heliport is a shot in the arm for Penzance, and is potentially transformational for the Isles of Scilly.”
The Chief Executive of the Isles of Scilly Steamship Company Rob Goldsmith was asked to comment on the decision and said: "We have always said that we are not afraid of competition and we will compete robustly with any new operator. The longer term consequences for sustained investment in the Scilly's transport system and the resulting implications for the community remain to be seen. We are disappointed with the outcome although we note that approval is subject to a decision regarding whether or not the application is called in by the Secretary of State."
The service is expected to launch in spring 2018, operated by state-of-the-art AW139 helicopters.
Will was joined on Friday's Morning Show by Robert Dorrien-Smith, Tom Matthews and Derek Thomas. You can hear the full interviews at the bottom of this article.