Friday, 19 January 2018

Penzance Heliport – How to Help

To express support for the revised Penzance Heliport planning application follow the guidance guidance issued below. 

From: Robert Dorrien-Smith

Date: Fri, Jan 19, 2018 at 3:58 PM

Subject: Your support

To: (deleted)
Dear (deleted),

Since we submitted our amended planning application to Cornwall Council at the end of last week, we have been inundated with messages asking how you can help.

The best way to help make the project a reality is by commenting on the planning application. In the original planning meeting, one of the key considerations of the committee was the overwhelming public support for the project. We need to demonstrate the deep support for this project that exists now more than ever.

You can submit your comments in one of three ways:

• Comment online using the Cornwall Council planning portal

• Email Cornwall Council, quoting reference PA16/09346

• Write to: Planning, Cornwall Council, County Hall, Treyew Road, Truro, TR1 3AY quoting reference PA16/09346

If you were one of the 2,600+ people who commented on the original planning application, you will really make a difference if you submit additional comments. Your new comment will be displayed in addition to your old comment, and both will be taken into consideration by the planning committee.

It is entirely up to you what you write in your planning comments, but they should focus on legitimate planning considerations such as the need for the development, the design of the scheme, and why the chosen site is the most appropriate location for the heliport.

I would encourage you to take a look at some of the further information we have supplied to Cornwall Council. Many of the reports are highly technical documents, but some key, clear and concise reports include:

• Our updated Socio-Economic Assessment on the need for the development, the social and economic impacts it will deliver, and an assessment of the relative merits of Penzance compared to other possible sites

• A letter from Sloane Helicopters detailing the benefits of Penzance for helicopter operations, including the site's weather resilience compared to other possible locations

• Our amended Planning Statement, which gives a good overview of the proposal and how it will benefit all five islands

Thank you for your ongoing support; your comments will make a difference.

Yours sincerely,

Robert Dorrien-Smith

Tresco Island Office, Tresco, Isles of Scilly, TR24 0QQ

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

Revised Penzance Heliport Planning Application now Online

The revised planning application can viewed on Cornwall Council’s Online Planning Register under the original application number (PA16/09346). There are 164 new documents making 355 in total (it must be a record!).  The total number of 'comments' now stands at 2705, the vast majority supportive of the application.  The list of documents (all 355) can be viewed here .
You can read comments on the application and file your own comments here 

Friday, 12 January 2018

New Penzance Heliport Planning Application Submitted!

Penzance Heliport Ltd has today submitted to Cornwall Council an amended planning application for Penzance Heliport.  After scrutiny, the new application will become available to view on Cornwall Council’s online planning register (application not yet available to view).

Below is the notification sent to the project's many supporters by Robert Dorrien-Smith:  

I am pleased to share with you that we have, today, submitted our amended planning application to Cornwall Council.

The amended application contains further information to enable Cornwall Council to re-assess the project following the previous legal attacks.

The amended application includes new environmental, heritage, socio-economic and aviation reports and shows the project will:

  • Unlock £31m of investment in the islands
  • Provide a £9m boost to West Cornwall
  • Help the islands hit growth targets through the provision of additional capacity
  • Encourage more visitors by dramatically improving reliability and weather resilience (flying from Penzance is possible in at least 40% lower cloud than from Land's End)

We do not yet know when Cornwall Council will schedule the re-assessment of the application but will share any updates with you as a matter of priority.

You can read the full update at the Penzance Heliport website .

I would also like to take this opportunity to sincerely thank you for your continuing support, and also to thank everyone who has signed the petition, which now stands at a staggering 10,188 people. For a community of just 2,500 people, this figure is truly remarkable and shows the affection with which people near and far hold these islands, as well as the clear importance of this project to Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. If you have not yet signed the petition I would encourage you to do so here.

Thank you, and I look forward to updating you in the coming weeks.

Yours Sincerely,

Robert Dorrien-Smith


The original planning application was approved by Cornwall Council’s Strategic Planning Committee on 10 March 2017. The IOSSG challenged the decision through an application for Judicial Review in the High Court on 7 counts. At the initial review of the application Mr Justice Holgate allowed (on 8 Jun) the application to proceed in respect of 4 of the 7 counts (Counts 1, 2, 5, and 7). The Claimant (IOSSG) ‘renewed Count 6a on 20 June 16'. Rather than proceed to a full hearing the original applicant agreed with Cornwall Council to resubmit the planning application taking account of judge’s determination. The revised application submitted today (12 Jan) is the result.

The 8 June 17 High Court Quashing Decision can be viewed or downloaded here (PA16/09346 document list)

The helicopter service between the Isles of Scilly and the mainland operated for 48 years between 2 May 1964 and 1 Nov 12. The service was originally provided by British European Airways (BEA) who had previously operated fixed wing Dragon Rapides between Lands End and St Marys. The helicopter service started at Lands End (2 May) but moved to a purpose built heliport at Penzance on 1 Sep 1964 to take advantage of better weather characteristics of the site.

The helicopter service became British Airways Helicopters on 31 Mar 74 and was eventually sold (on privatization) to Robert Maxwell in 1986 and renamed British International Helicopters. In 1984 the IOSSG created Isles of Scilly Skybus, a fixed wing competitor to the BIH service to St Marys. The Helicopter company changed hands several times until 2006 when BIH finalised a secondary management buy-out financed by a syndicate of investors led by Matrix Private Equity Partners and financed largely by loans from the Bank of Ireland. BIH ceased operating the service in 2012 and sold the Heliport site for retail development.

Total passenger trips by air dropped substantially following loss of the BIH service to St Marys and Tresco. There was some recovery in air and sea passenger numbers following substantial additional investment by the IOSSG in air and sea services but annual passenger trips have levelled off at ~210,000 p.a. compared to 258,000 in 2008 and an average of ~275,000 over the 3 years 2002-2004. The loss of the helicopter has had a profound negative impact on the economy of the islands which is very heavily dependent on tourism.

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

IOSSG Statutory Accounts Disappoint.

The statutory accounts of the IOSSG for the year ending 31 Mar 17 have recently been filed at Companies House. The Chairman’s report and the CEO’s Strategic report making interesting reading. Despite one of the most buoyant tourism seasons Cornwall has experienced for years the Company effectively ‘flatlined’ because of capacity issues.
  •  Total turnover was down slightly at £17.094 million against £17.402 (2015/6). 
  •   Profits after tax were down at £1.519 million verses £1.840 million the previous year (2015/6 benefited from an exceptional item contributing to profits not present in 2016/7). 
  •  Total passenger numbers were down slightly at 209,853  (2015/6 212,590).
  • Skybus (turnover ~£9 million) made a small loss (£48,000) overall attributed to increased leasing/fuel costs (caused by depreciate of Sterling) and a decrease in winter passenger numbers attributed to reduced contractor trips on completion of the St Mary’s Quay improvements. Skybus made a small profit in 2015/6 (£173,000).
  • Investment in the Mali Rose (purchase and conversion works) were valued at £2.585 million.  The expenditure had an adverse impact on ‘Net Current Assets’ which dropped to negative £160,460 (2016 + £1,701,154). 

The accounts can be downloaded from Companies House here:


The IOSSG accounts reflect a lacklustre performance in favourable tourism market conditions (favourable for the rest of Cornwall at least).  With the Scilly economy so dependent on visitors the 'flatlining' of the IOSSG passenger numbers implies trouble, or at least stagnation, for the Island economy.