Tuesday, 17 July 2018

Penzance Regeneration Partnership supports Penzance Heliport Proposals

Penzance Regeneration Partnership voted unanimously to support the Penzance Heliport planning application at is monthly meeting at Penwith College on 16 July 2018.  The Partnership comprises the local Cornwall Councillors, Town Councillors (2), the Penzance Business Improvement District (2), Penzance Chamber of Commerce (2), Tourism Association(1), Penwith College (1) and Neighbourhood Plan (2).  The resolution read:

“The Penzance Regeneration Partnership unanimously supports the Penzance Heliport (PA16/09346) planning application and regards it as a critically important proposal to support the Town’s economy and future prospects”

Tuesday, 10 July 2018

Last call for Penzance Heliport Letters

Time is running out if you want to support the Penzance Heliport planning application. We encourage you to do so if you have not already. Consider encouraging others.

You can make a representation online (register first), by email (to planning@cornwall.gov.uk ) or by letter to “The Planning Officer, Cornwall Council, New County Hall, Truro TR1 3AY.”

The email subject line or letter title line should read: Letter of Support. Penzance Heliport PA16/09346

The letter should refer to ‘material planning concerns’ and use relevant personal experience if helpful to illustrate the point. The material considerations include (amongst others):

  • Improved reliability and frequency of essential transport services between the islands and the mainland.
  • Improvement of the island visitor economy which has stagnated since the loss of the BIH service in 2012.
  • The improved integration of air services with road and rail that is possible at Penzance.
  • The lower environmental impact of operating helicopters from Penzance rather than from Lands End Airport which lies in the heart of the environmentally sensitive AONB.
  • Economic benefits from avoiding a monopoly in the delivery of transport services to the islands.
  • The proven effectiveness and positive economic impact, demonstrated over 38 years, of the previous helicopter service from Penzance compared with the weather limited air services possible from Lands End Airport.
  • The economic benefits to Penzance and West Cornwall in jobs and visitor spending of restoring the Penzance helicopter service. 

Monday, 9 July 2018

FRIST rebuts 'StoptheChop' Leaflet Claims


FRIST challenges much of the text in the leaflet dropped at addresses in Penzance 7 Jul. The FRIST response is in red below: 

Text from leaflet:

Helicopters are the most polluting forms of transport using 150 gallons of kerosene per hour and causing air pollution from particulates and NO2. These pollutants cause both lung disease and heart disease. High CO2 emissions will contribute to climate change.

The proposed Penzance service will be more reliable than air services from Lands End and it will consume less fuel per passenger than Island Helicopters as it carries 50% more passengers but consumes only 20% more fuel.

Each trip between the islands and Penzance will consume ~50 gallons and carry 12 pax (~4 gals/pax). Many passengers will have burnt as much fuel driving to Penzance by car as they consume on the last 40 mile leg to Scilly. Nobody disputes that a modern, all year around, ferry service would minimize the need for air travel but the IOSSSGp and the author of this leaflet lobbied to prevent public sector investment to achieve this.

The site is greenfield site close to the RSPB bird reserve at Marazion Marches.

The previous Penzance Heliport operated for 48 years without any harmful impact on the Marazion Marshes reserve. A railway line runs through the middle of the reserve and there are busy roads on two sides of it. The helicopter route (past and proposed) does not overfly the reserve. Detailed environmental assessments do not indicate the likelihood of any significant harm.

Lands End Airport is in the middle of an environmentally sensitive AONB and close to an SSI for breeding seabirds. The new Island Helicopter service has commenced without an Environmental Impact Assessment being made public, if indeed conducted at all.

95% of supporters of the heliport proposal are holidaymakers looking for a more convenient link to Tresco.

The proposed restoration of the Penzance helicopter service has the overwhelming support of Islanders. It has the support of the vast majority of Penzance residents despite the Town being close to the flight path. Even the determined efforts of the IOSSSGp, now with the support of the services of John Maggs (professional campaigner), have been unable to change this. The 48 years of continuous helicopter services between Penzance and Scilly benefited both communities and was much missed when it ceased in 2012. The unethical suppression of competition, which is what this campaign is all about, is to be abhorred.

Two thirds of flights from Penzance Heliport will be to St Mary’s, one third to Tresco as in the past. Islanders on Bryher, St Martin’s and Tresco always found the the Tresco flights the most convenient and reliable. 

Let’s make effective use of the investment already made in Lands End Airport from which there already is a helicopter service!

The IOSSGp is to be commended for its investment in Lands End Airport. However, the Airport’s location in the heart of an environmentally sensitive AONB, its adverse weather characteristics and poor integration with main roads/rail links & ferry service make it unsuitable for a new helicopter service.

As London bans diesel cars to reduce its pollution and climate change targets get closer, helicopter flights from a new airport are not the answer!

London has public transport alternatives that Scilly does not.

The use of air travel is unavoidable given the limitations of the 41 year old Scillonian III ferry and the absence of a winter ferry service. Air passenger numbers dropped by 38% with the loss of the BIH service damaging the island economy and stranding islanders on Scilly for up to a week at a time when winter weather prevented fixed wing flights. Skybus has not been able to fill the vacuum created by the loss of the BIH service although increased use of the Scillonian has reduced the visitor deficit from 38% to ~20% (50,000 missing journeys/year compared to pre 2006 traffic).

Say no to a second airport and yes to a better ferry service!

Say yes to a better air service from Penzance – a route with a successful 48 year track record. Say no to monopoly and yes to choice. We said yes to a better ferry service in 2010-11 but you lobbied against it.

Once noise nuisance begins there is no legal way of reversing it because airports are exempt from all noise nuisance legislation.

The AW169 is smaller and quieter than the previous S61. It is operating from the edge of Penzance’s industrial zone and adjacent to the busy A30 dual carriageway. With the new heliport further from housing than the last heliport, the noise problem will be less.

If you share our concerns please attend the public meeting , send objections to planning@cornwall.gov.uk quoting reference PA16/09346

Penzance Heliport and contact your local councillor.

More info at facebook.com/stopthechoppenzance


Message from FRIST. Please come to the public meeting at 6pm Monday 23 July at St. John's Hall, Penzance to support the Penzance Heliport.

Many islanders would like to come but may be constrained by the difficulties of travel. If you cannot attend please send a note of your support to planning@cornwall.gov.uk quoting reference PA16/09346 Penzance Heliport and contact your local councillor. If you want a Penzance Heliport you need to speak up.

Marian Berkeley
FRIST Co-ordinator

Sunday, 8 July 2018

IOSSG finances - Are the Steamship Group’s finances in a good shape?
A back of the envelope calculation - £5m a year being wasted?

IOSSG’s helicopter service

Costs: IOSSG helicopter is an 8 seater;  IOSSG have apparently signed an 18 month contract for £1.8m hire + £2k per flying hour.

So their weekly costs might be:

Standing charge £1.8m/78 weeks =  £24k per week.

Assuming 4 hours actual flying time per day (1 hour per round trip)
four returns per day is £8k x 6 days per week = £48k a week;

Any other costs?  Airport charges, licences?  Ignore these for now!

Total cost per week might exceed of £72k.

Revenue:  With 8 seats sold at average of £120 single, 8 flights/day 6 days a week brings revenue of £46k a week.   If half full, income would be £23k per week.

Loss per week if flying full would be £72k - £46k = £26k or over a year £1.3m.

If flying average half full, loss = £49k per week or over 1 year £2.5m.

The Mali Rose

The new (to IOSSG) freight ship, the Mali Rose, has since purchase, had to have and replating, its bow thruster propeller fell off during trials with the Marine and Coastguard Inspector on board, It had a controls failure when entering Penzance wet dock resulting in damage to it and a fishing boat.  With only a small clearance between the ship and dock gates, the harbourmaster at Penzance is reported to be requiring the IOSSG to have a tug in attendance every time it docks; at a cost of £4k per visit from Falmouth (twice a week would cost £416k per year).   More recently, a burst oil pipe in the engine room caused a problem in the engine compartment and risked a serious fire.  Then there are perhaps £5k a week harbour dues in Penzance on top of those for the Gri Maritha.

Estimated costs of the above and other alterations are £4.5k spread over the last and present financial years. It is reported that another £2m must be spent to make the vessel fit for purpose.  
Allow £7m in total effectively wasted.

The financial state of the Company

Last year’s (to 31 March 2017) turnover was £17m.

With the above Mali Rose costs spread over perhaps two years, being generous, one might see per year:

£2m loss on the helicopter and £3.5m loss on Mali Rose, say £5m per year wasted!

Operating profit £1.52m.   

Fares have shot up in the last few years to around £50 single for the Scillonian (March to October only) and £90 single for Skybus, making travel unaffordable for many people.

Can the company survive a £5m loss on a £17m turnover for at least two years running?

Is the Board fulfilling its fiduciary duty?   Is the company trading at a loss?

Why are the shareholders not complaining at the money wasted on two ‘vanity’ projects?

Customers have no choice – either they use this monopoly or don’t travel.

This is one of the reasons why, on 16th May 2016 FRIST has written to the Chairman of the IOSSG and its Board:

‘we must conclude that the necessary changes cannot be achieved under the current control of Andrew May as Chairman supported by major shareholders.’

Marian Berkeley, FRIST Co-ordinator, 07770 341302, berkeleymarian@gmail.com


July 2018

Tuesday, 3 July 2018

Penzance Heliport Best Choice.

The following letter from Capt Jim Blain was printed in the Cornishman recently:

It is a mystery to me and many others in the aviation community why the IOSSC should want to set up a helicopter service with a small helicopter from Land’s End to The Isles of Scilly in direct competition to their own fixed wing service, unless of course it is an attempt to protect their monopoly of transport services to the islands. According to the company website it will cost £37 return more (fares on the helicopter will start at £215 return) and will save all of 5 minutes flight time.

The important factor, however, is that this helicopter service will still be plagued by the same Land’s End weather that has caused numerous delays and cancellations over the years. Even with the installation of the new Global Positioning technology (GPS) that the Steamship Company has repeatedly quoted, there still needs to be sufficient cloud base and visibility to land safely at the airport. It is not like the ‘autoland’ systems that allow landing in fog at major airports. Pilots of both helicopters and fixed wing aircraft flying into airfields like Land’s End, which do not have instrument guidance onto the runway, still need to see the ground or sea and the landing site to be able to land the aircraft. The rules dictate that there must be a minimum of 250 feet cloud base – the space between the bottom of the cloud and the surface – to allow a visual landing. Land’s End Airport is 400 feet above sea level and is subject to the same cloud base limitations, more for some aircraft types and for some landing directions dictated by the wind direction. In practice, this means that when the general cloud base is between 650 feet and 250 feet, not an infrequent occurrence, flights from Land’s End airport will be cancelled or delayed while flights from Penzance could continue.

I flew on this route from Penzance for 12 year - 7 years as chief pilot and 5 years as general manager. We consistently carried more than 100,000 passengers a year at a punctuality rate of 98% and a regularity rate of 99%. After the closure of the Penzance heliport Scilly lost between 1/3 and 1/2 its visitors, a shortfall that the fixed wing service has failed to make up.

I am surprised that the shareholders of the IOSSC have not woken up to the folly of a helicopter service from Lands End vying for the same customers that are at present being carried by their own fixed wing service. Perhaps they should be more concerned about the future of the sea freight service and the Scillonian 111 replacement.

Capt Jim Blain MRAeS