Thursday, 13 September 2018

Big Changes Announced within the Steamship Company

The IOSSGp has announced its results for the year ending 31 Mar 2018 and it is not a reassuring story despite a ~3% increase in total passenger numbers to 215,624 (2017 = 209,853) and a record turnover of £17.46 (previously £17.46m). Profits before exceptional items were, after tax, £514,736. Exceptional items included an ‘impairment’ following a revaluation of the Mali Rose of £633,447 in the Group’s annual accounts. This gave a final operating loss of £0.17m compared to a profit of £1.52m in the previous year.

The IOSSGp press release has announced the appointment of two new directors, Scillonian Stephen Hicks, who was brought up on the islands and had a career in the Merchant Navy before returning to Scilly in 1989 and Henk Wiekens, joint managing director of Pendennis Shipyard in Falmouth since a management buy-out in 1993. See Company announcement for more details of the new directors.

Not announced in the Company press release but recorded at Companies House is the appointment of Gary Robert Clark, Chartered Accountant, as a director from 30 Aug 18.

It is rumoured, but not formally announced in public, that Andrew May and Diccon Rogers are standing down as directors.


The changes to the Company Board, both the appointments formally announced and the resignations rumoured, will be welcome news to shareholders, islanders and regular visitors to the islands. 

Significant damage has been done to the Company’s balance sheet by the Mali Rose debacle.  The impact of the Island Helicopters initiative on the Company's 'bottom line' will not be known publicly until next year. Even more serious damage has been done to the Company’s reputation amongst islanders and other customers by the highly personal and no-holds-barred campaign against the Penzance Heliport proposal to protect the transport monopoly the Company inherited in 2012 when the BIH service from Penzance was withdrawn. This campaign was seen has highly injurious to the island community and its visitor dependent economy.

Thursday, 23 August 2018

IOSSSGp and Penzance Heliport Ltd to work together.

Penzance Heliport Ltd and Isles of Scilly Steamship Group have committed to work together after an overture from the IOSSGp accepting Cornwall Council’s unanimous 3 Aug 18 decision to give planning consent to plans for Penzance Heliport. See Cornwall Live at the link for the full article.

The news will come as a relief to many who feared more damage to the island economy from a continuing battle to maintain the monopoly on travel to the islands created by the withdrawal of the BIH service from Penzance in Nov 2012.

The IoSSGp's Skybus and BIH worked successfully together for over two decades in the past.  There is no reason it cannot happen again.

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 ) 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 quoting reference PA16/09346

Penzance Heliport and contact your local councillor.

More info at


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 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