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.

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