Penzance Heliport Ltd has said it is disappointed that the Isles of Scilly Steamship Group (ISSG) "has chosen to ignore rules put in place to protect the islands’ environment."
The rules relate to the Conservation of Species and Habitats Regulations act of 2017. Penzance Heliport Ltd claims they've fully complied with these regulations.
In a statement released this morning Penzance Heliport Ltd said: "Working with the Council of the Isles of Scilly and Natural England, we have devised flight paths to avoid the Eastern Isles during the bird breeding season and reduced the number of flights to Tresco Heliport. We believe it is important to protect Scilly’s environment, and it is vital the Council and Natural England ensure all operators carry out equally rigorous assessments. It is not for one Company to ride rough-shod over the rules at the expense of these islands.
"We remain concerned that Island Helicopters is distracting the Steamship Company from the challenges facing its sea services, as recently highlighted by the Transport and Maritime Minister. The replacement of the islands’ freight and passenger vessels are the issues islanders and businesses want and deserve to be resolved urgently."
The statement continued: "We are also concerned that Island Helicopters will put the Steamship Company at serious financial risk for the sake of a vanity project aimed solely at preventing competition. Island Helicopters is not the service islanders, businesses and friends of the Isles of Scilly want to see, as demonstrated by the fact only around 10% of seats for this season have been sold to date. Many of these tickets represent displacement from the Steamship Company’s fixed-wing services, not real growth for the islands.
"If a service from Land’s End aboard a small 8 passenger helicopter was the right answer, we would have welcomed it. However, the Isles of Scilly needs a helicopter service that provides real resilience, real growth and real competition. This is what Penzance Heliport will provide, and is the reason more than 11,600 people have now signed a petition in favour of it, with over 3,000 people showing their support to Cornwall Council.
"We remain as committed to the Penzance Heliport project as ever, and look forward to providing the service the islands deserve in due course."
Abi Wrigley from Radio Scilly was reporting on the launch of Island Helicopters today and spoke to Tom Matthews, Penzance Heliport Ltd and Andrew May, Chairman of the ISSG to get both points of view on this matter.