European funding worth £1.8 million has been confirmed for Penzance Heliport as work begins on restoring the helicopter link between Penzance and the Isles of Scilly.
The scheme will receive support from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), which has previously supported other Isles of Scilly infrastructure projects including airport redevelopment at Land’s End and St Mary’s and quay upgrades at Penzance and St Mary’s.
The remainder of the £4.3 million project costs will come from private investment, with Tresco Estate and the Dorrien-Smith family the largest investors.
Penzance Heliport will reinstate the air link between Penzance and the islands of St Mary’s and Tresco, with flights expected to begin in spring 2020 and tickets on sale from summer 2019. The service will strengthen transport links to the Isles of Scilly with increased capacity, improved road and rail connectivity and enhanced weather resilience.
Dorrien-Smith said: “We’re delighted the Isles of Scilly will once again benefit from European investment in its transport infrastructure. This European funding, alongside the record support from islanders, visitors, businesses and agencies on the islands and further afield, shows the importance of Penzance Heliport to the future growth of the Isles of Scilly.”
Preparation work has now commenced on the site at Jelbert Way, following an archaeological survey completed by the Cornwall Archaeological Unit. The preparatory works include drainage and the removal of a section of hedge to allow for the helicopter landing area. The removed sections of hedge will be replaced by almost four times as much similar habitat.
Following a tender process, west Cornwall contractor Symons Construction was selected to complete the preparatory work. The main contractor will be announced soon, with construction expected to begin in April.
Chairman of the Council of the Isles of Scilly, councillor Robert Francis said: “Excellent transport infrastructure is vital to the social and economic future of our islands. Today’s announcement of European support for Penzance Heliport will further strengthen our island transport links for a thriving island community.”
David Jackson, executive director for the Islands’ Partnership tourism body, added: “The Islands’ Partnership welcomes today’s announcement of further European investment in Scilly’s vital transport infrastructure. This latest round of ERDF support follows earlier investment in other island transport hubs at Land’s End and here on St. Mary’s – due recognition of the importance of a resilient and multi-modal transport system in securing a sustainable economic future for our islands.”
Helicopter flights from Penzance Heliport will operate to St Mary’s and Tresco using a state-of-the-art AW139 helicopter operated by Sloane Helicopters.