There have been several twists and turns over the future of the helicopter service today. Spirits were raised when Tesco announced it would withdraw having received assurances from BIH that the helicopter service would continue. Hope faded when BIH clarified their position pointing out that all legal actions ahd to be withdrawn before they would undertake to continue the service.
The initial Tesco statement said:
Tesco has dropped its Judicial Review against CornwallCouncil. This follows a commitment from British International Helicopters (BIH) to continue helicopter services between Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, if all legal challenges are dropped.
The commitment was made in a formal letter to Tesco, dated 17th August, from Peter Shawyer the Chairman of BIH on behalf of the Board.
There remains another Judicial Review lodged against Cornwall Council regarding the same planning application. This legal challenge is unrelated and independent of Tesco and is now the only issue creating uncertainty for the future of the helicopter service.
Michael Kissman, Community Director at Tesco said: “This commitment from BIH means we can withdraw our Judicial Review immediately. “Our aim was simply to ensure that planning law was applied properly and there was a commitment that BIH would continue the helicopter service. We now have that commitment.
“We know how important this service is to our staff, customers and local people. I hope circumstances allow BIH to deliver on their promises to keep their helicopters flying."
The BIH press release later in the day stated:
In a letter to Tesco dated 17 August BIH chairman Peter Shawyer stated that on 14 August the Board confirmed that .subject to the withdrawal of all legal challenges, BIH is happy to confirm that the helicopter service between Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly will continue from November 2012 from an alternative site in Cornwall.
Between the 14 August and the 17 August, however, it became clear that the remaining legal challenge would not be removed within a suitability short timeframe despite great efforts by a number of people. Consequently in the same letter to Tesco the chairman stated; .regrettably, not all legal challenges have been removed BIH therefore have no alternative but to pursue another course of action. This course is to cease the passenger service from 1 November 2012.
BIH has spent considerable time and money in connection with seeking to continue to maintain the route and now has to focus on the future of the company without the route to the Isles of Scilly. BIH will continue to talk to other potential operators for the route.
Two applications for Judicial Review are currently lodged with the High Court
Tesco: Application 7692/12 issued on 20 July 2012.
Mr C Cartwright: Application 7934/12 issued 26 July 2012
It is likely that Richard Buxton, representing Mr Cartwright, will have applied for a Cost Protection Order (PCO) which limits the applicant’s costs. PCOs are most frequently made in cases involving environmental law where the EU regulations require that access to justice in environmental cases should not be “prohibitively expensive”. The applicant has to show that the action is in the public interest and has a reasonable prospect of success. Lets hope Cornwall Council’s ‘brief’ is on the case.
The stakes for Tesco and Sainsburys are high. The GVA Grimley report into Penzance Supermarkets dated April 2011 (commissioned by Cornwall Council) estimated the trade diversion from Tesco (Branwells Mill) to Sainsburys at between £14.3 and £16.5 million/year.
Scilly Today http://tinyurl.com/cjvsoe9
Pirate FM: http://tinyurl.com/bpy3gb6
Cornishman online: http://tinyurl.com/clhcc5q