An amended planning application for a heliport in Penzance to serve the Isles of Scilly is to be submitted to Cornwall Council in the coming weeks.
Planning consent was originally granted in February, but has been withdrawn on legal grounds after a judicial review was launched by the Isles of Scilly Steamship Company, which operates existing air and sea transport to the islands.
Robert Dorrien-Smith, who is behind the proposals to reinstate the Isles of Scilly helicopter service, claims strong local support for the project and said: “Islanders, visitors and businesses on Scilly are desperate to know when the new service will be up and running, but a judicial review can take months to even get to court, let alone be resolved.
“To us this uncertainty and cost to the taxpayer is totally unacceptable and therefore the best course of action is to consent to judgment and submit an amended application.
“This will allow us to address any issues the judge indicated could be arguable, save Cornwall rate-payers money and bring about a quicker resolution to this project that the islands are so desperate to see come to fruition.”
Meanwhile, the Isles of Scilly Steamship Group has called for a major consultation on the future of transport links to the Isles of Scilly.
Chairman, Andrew May, said: “We recognise that customers want enhanced and more reliable transport links to the islands and we hope that today’s decision will act as a catalyst for a much wider debate about the need for an agreed plan to achieve this.
“The Steamship Company is committed to a major schedule of investment, including a replacement for the Scillonian III, and would welcome an opportunity for the whole community to work together to deliver an affordable, sustainable and reliable transport solution for Scilly that includes a new helicopter service.”
The call for a debate has the support of business leaders, who say there needs to be a clear transport plan for the islands.
David Jackson, executive director of the Islands’ Partnership, the destination management organisation and leading business body on Scilly, said: “With the islands embarking on a major study of what’s needed to sustain and grow its visitor economy, it is a timely opportunity to use this process to help inform the debate.
“However, what is important for now is that we do everything possible to encourage and secure continued investment in all forms of transport including the commitment to a potential new helicopter service. A more resilient and sustainable transport system remains vital to the future of these islands.”
The Steamship Group insists that it does not oppose the introduction of a new helicopter service but says it has been concerned about the added costs and risks to the Scilly transport network of building a new heliport in Penzance when Land’s End Airport is just a few miles away.
May added: “Neither the Islands nor Penzance can afford a repeat of the collapsed helicopter service that we saw five years ago and we all need to look at what’s in the best long-term interests of the islands.
“Now is a real opportunity for everyone involved in this debate to come together to create a clearer vision for the islands’ transport needs, including a sustainable helicopter service that many people want to see. We are ready and willing to play our part in that by helping to facilitate helicopters from Land’s End Airport. We have already offered discounted charges and a service level agreement to ensure transparent and fair operational standards.”