Monday 23 July 2012

MP not ready to ask Govt to separate Harbour Projects

From Scilly Today 20 July 2012.  
Scilly’s MP says he won’t ask the Department for Transport to separate the St Mary’s Quay improvement plans from the Penzance scheme.....

……..Andrew George believes that the mainland project is only six months behind St Mary’s but there are concerns that Penzance won’t make the deadline for European grants, which makes up half of the £8m funding. That means the St Mary’s Quay improvements rely on the mainland project succeeding.

See full item here:


It is understood that there are issues with project deliverability and scope as far as the Penzance Harbour project is concerned. 

The terms of reference for the Penzance project stated that it should be deliverable within existing permissions and especially the existing 2009 Harbour Revision Order (HRO).  Penzance Town Council’s budget did not stretch to seeking Legal Council’s advice on the issue (cost circa £5,000) and at the beginning of the Options Review it was anyway unclear exactly how extensive any ‘wet work’ in the Harbour would be.  With the ‘preferred option’ identified and worked up in more detail Cornwall Council has sought Counsel’s opinion and the advice is that an HRO is required.    The minimum time for a new HRO is 2 years (it is an Act of Parliament). 

Given the political sensitivity of any works on Penzance Harbour and the likelihood that objectors would seek Judicial Review (again), it would be reckless for Cornwall Council to proceed if there was an iota of doubt about the legal basis of the proposed works.  

The  project schedule for the Penzance Harbour project (as presented to the DfT on 15 June) is understood to exceed the timeline for ERDF funding.  DfT is relying upon the ERDF to fund a major part of the project.  The additional need for a HRO just underlines the impossibility of delivering the Penzance project with ERDF funding. 

There are also issues with the scope of the Penzance Harbour work which is focussed on freight and passenger facilities. Capital dredging was scaled back due to cost and the issue of sea defence of South Pier excluded from the scope of the Options Review.  Both the dredging and sea defence issues are important to the operator, apparently more important than the full passenger terminal which the operator believes is more than is necessary.  The DfT is aware of these reservations.

The reality is that the any project at Penzance that started ‘from scratch’ was high risk because of the limited time available to work up an entirely new solution with a much smaller budget.   Permissions were likely to be a minefield for an entirely new solution and this is how it has turned out.   This is not the kind of project a parish council is equipped to handle.  Fortunately the problem has been identified at an early stage (if not the earliest possible stage).

We expect to hear in the next month or two what is happening to the BIH helicopter service at the end of October.  If it is not continuing at all (a possibility) then the brief for the Penzance project needs revisiting because it assumes ‘business as usual’ – a summer only ferry service.  Islanders are going to need more than Skybus for 5 months of the year which is of course what Friends of IOS Transport is all about.

To view Penzance HRO 2009 click below:

To view proposed plans (and see if you think an HRO seems likely given the scope of the current HRO ) click the link:

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