Friends of IOS Transport - new website address

posted Sep 5, 2012, 6:34 PM by Richard Cliffe

The Friends of IOS Transport website can now be found at

You can sign-up as a 'Friend' at the sign-up tab on the website of direct via this link: and be kept informed.

Friends of Isles of Scilly Transport

posted Aug 17, 2012, 4:19 PM by Richard Cliffe   [ updated Sep 5, 2012, 6:25 PM ]

After a period of radio silence an update on the IOS link is necessary.

 Following the decision at the 11th hour (31 March 2011) by Norman Baker MP, Under Secretary of State for Transport, not to fund the £62 million Route Partnership  Scheme there have been face saving efforts to demonstrate that the Islanders have not been entirely abandoned.  

 The Minister’s strategy can be summed up as modest (but necessary) harbour improvement projects for Penzance and St Mary’s,  heavy reliance (50%) upon ERDF funding and the private sector responsible for vessel replacement.  The Islander’s requirement for an all year around lifeline service was just ignored.

 Within 15 months of the Ministers decision the strategy it is manifestly falling a part:

 -   Dependence on ERDF funds is proving an impossible constraint for Penzance where a new solution for the harbour was required.  Any new project needed to be underway by Dec 2013 for ERDF funding to be available and this means a fully worked up package with all permissions to be with the DfT by Apr 2013.

 -   Whilst the St Mary’s project looks like it could be achievable the Minister has stated that both projects have to go ahead together or neither goes ahead.  This appears to be a political constraint rather than a technical constraint.  The risk is that neither will proceed and West Cornwall will lose the benefit of £8 million of ERDF funding.

 -   There are indications that the private sector cannot afford to replace the Scillonian III.  The IOSSCo has announced its intention to extend the life of the Scillonian until 2018 (41 yrs old).  This will require the Maritime & Coastguard Agency to continue to give the vessel exemptions from current regulations for another 6 years unless IOSSCo intend to invest a great deal to make it compliant.   Exemptions, when granted, come with a raft of operational constraints to ensure operations are safe.

 -   The need for a reliable all year round lifeline service has burst into everybody’s consciousness with the announcement of the closure of the helicopter service – an eventuality the Route Partnership Scheme addressed but the DfT ignored

 The Islander’s need a reliable and an affordable year round lifeline service.  Every other comparable island in the UK has this service provided by an all year round ferry service, usually with an element of public funding. 

 Unless the Government takes some action both the island community and its economy will suffer.  

 The problem is not just the Islanders’ problem.  The 2000+ islanders and their 100,000+ visitors generate a lot of economic activity in Penzance and West Cornwall.  It is impossible for Penzance to be unaffected if the economy of the Islands contracts.

 The Islanders have recently launched  Friends of Isles of Scilly Transport (FRIST) to campaign for a reliable, affordable all year around lifeline service.  


 Facebook Group:




Pz Harbour Options - Skirmish!

posted Feb 11, 2012, 8:43 PM by Richard Cliffe   [ updated Feb 11, 2012, 8:43 PM ]

The unanimity that has existed so far over the identification of harbour options was broken yesterday with John Maggs quoted in Western Morning News 'knocking' Penzance Town Council's effort.  The item has been published online at the link below.......


Any uninformed person reading the quotes would be thoroughly mislead.

The ‘alternatives’ John Maggs refers to are simply explorations of the costs of Option 6A (£19m), Albert Pier, to see how far you can reduce costs before the option becomes undesirable or untenable.  The more extreme pruning created two variants costed at £9m and £11m (plus £1.5m each for a watersports centre).  It is highly unlikely that these variants would be operationally acceptable because they are operationally worse than today regarding tidal restrictions of vessel movement and freight loading.  Albert Pier would have less depth of water than the South Pier does today.

Dealing with the specific claims:

There were “2 two potentially viable alternatives”. 

This is not correct.  They are not viable financially or operationally.  Both alternatives require a minimum of £3 million in dredging costs leaving only £1m from the DfT budget available for match funding with ERDF (total budget £5 million based upon a favourable 50/50 match funding).  The £1.5 m for a new watersports centre appears unfundable by either DfT and ERDF. This leaves a shortfall of either £5.5 m or £7.5m.  Because even after dredging, Albert Pier would still be shallower than South Pier is today, these low cost variants, when re-scored, would score poorly if not excluded altogether as operationally unacceptable.

That the Albert Pier option is consigned to the dustbin because of a £19 m price tag (when really there were viable variants at near half the price). 

 All the other Albert Pier options were consigned to the ‘dustbin’ earlier because they did not score well against less ambitious projects given the severe money and time constraints.  Only the £16.3m variant of Option 6A (with reduced reclaim land area) has comparable performance.  The process highlighted that an attractive Albert Pier option was unaffordable.  It also highlighted that Albert Pier was high risk.  Reducing the cost of expensive elements made them less attractive or operationally questionable without making them affordable.

£8m pot earmarked for any development

The budget should read £4m DfT budget with possibly up to a further £4m in ERDF match funding for eligible spending.  Dredging is not eligible for match funding and the Albert Pier (any option) requires not less than £3m and realistically a lot more.  This leaves only £1 m for ERDF match funding.

Penzance not should assume it is owed any favours by the ERDF funders.  The assumed 50/50 intervention rate is higher than the previous RP scheme’s 32/68. 

Albert Pier “remains enormously popular because it is adjacent to Penzance bus and train stations. 

Most people realise that Albert Pier is not the panacea zealots make it out be and this was reflected in the show of hands at the Option Review Public Meeting on 17 Nov 11.  At this meeting an impromptu vote was called looking for support for options to focus on the Albert Pier only.  Wiser heads prevailed and of those that voted (a lot did not) the majority wanted all options considered (ratio 2 to 1 or better).  The bus station is an irrelevance to most ferry passengers and train times mean that few arrive by train and go direct to the ferry.  Enthusiasts for Albert Pier solutions assume otherwise or have an interest in getting the IOSSCo freight/passenger operation out of the wet dock area.

Two alternatives for Albert Pier have since been worked up at a cost of £9m or £11m. 

This is incorrect.  The £9m and £11m alternatives have not been “worked up”.  They are demonstrations that Option 6A becomes untenable if costs are reduced.  These options would be severely operationally constrained by tides and one require dangerous vehicles operations on Albert Pier.

Given the facts and the constraints, pursuing an Albert Pier option would be perceived as reckless, unjustifiable  and an abdication of the Town Council’s responsibility create a deliverable proposal to sustain a vital service to the Isles of Scilly.  Recommending an undeliverable Albert Pier option would be seen as playing to the crowd and a snub to the Department of Transport. It is not surprising that the Penzance Harbour Scheme Management Board appears to want to avoid this path.

Option Review Consultation Deadline Monday 12.00

posted Feb 11, 2012, 8:23 PM by Richard Cliffe

If you were unable to attend the Option Review Public Consultation and Exhibition on Thursday you can still view the display content and register your views via the online survey.  The deadline for inputs is noon Monday 13 Feb 2012.


Go to and click on the links in the bottom left hand corner of the home page.   There are tick boxes covering specific elements in the options plus an opportunity to comment generally (free text).


Harbour Technical Reports available for 9 Feb meeting

posted Feb 6, 2012, 3:07 PM by Richard Cliffe

As previously stated, the remaining two shortlisted options are the subject of a public exhibition and consultation on 9 Feb (Pz Gallery, Coinagehall Street 11.00 – 21.00 hrs).

Hyder Consulting's draft Option Technical Review, released ~ 3 Feb is essential reading.  The report is in 3 parts and available to download/view under the ‘files’ section of this website (folder Pz Harbour Options Review).

Part 1-1 (large 8MB) + Part 1-2 (2MB) makes up the body of the report.

Part 2 comprises mainly the annexes.

You can view the impact of the 2 viable remaining options by examining the 3D representations available at:

Note:  Scroll through the 3D images to see before and after views of Penzance Harbour from different perspectives.

The final preferred option to be chosen (or more accurately ‘created’) will almost certainly be an amalgam of Options 3 and 4A.  The Management Board wants to knows people views before taking the decision on 16 Feb.



 Although the DfT have stated that replacing vessels is a private sector responsibility it has always been understood that the private sector (IOS Steamship Co) would have much more scope to find a suitable and affordable second hand vessel if Penzance Harbour was deeper allowing vessels of standard construction and draft could be berthed. 

 Dredging was costed on the basis that the shortlisted options would included berthing pockets dredged to -4 metres below Chart Datum.   This has proved unaffordable due to the cost of dredging rock and then disposing of it.  The cheapest dredging option was over £4 million (DfT indicative project budget is £4 million).  The situation is made worst by the fact that dredging is not match fundable by ERDF so all of the cost has to come from DfT leaving little for a project matched funded by ERDF.   It may be dredging, beyond catching up on maintenance dredging of silt is effectively ‘kicked into the long grass’.

Public Consultation 9 Feb - Pz Harbour Option Review

posted Feb 1, 2012, 7:57 AM by Richard Cliffe

Penzance Town Council’s effort to try and find an acceptable way ahead for improved IOS link facilities for Penzance Harbour is approaching a conclusion.   The remaining two shortlisted options are the subject of a public consultation on 9 Feb at Pz Gallery, Coinagehall Street 11.00 – 21.00 hrs.

It is important that a wide cross section of local residents attend this event on 9 Thursday 9 Feb because the publics response will influence final combination of elements that become the ‘preferred option’ for Penzance Harbour ferry link improvements.

The two remaining viable options for Penzance Harbour (options 3 & 4A) can be found at Sections 5.4 and 9.1 of the Options Shortlisting Report to be found at:

Option 6A (an Albert Pier option), which is no longer being pursued due to cost, can be found at Section 9.2. 

 The ‘before and after’ 3D representations of Penzance Harbour can be viewed at:

Note:  Scroll through the 3D images to see before and after views of Penzance Harbour from different perspectives.

Penzance Harbour Options Shortlist Announced

posted Dec 22, 2011, 1:22 PM by Richard Cliffe

The Penzance Harbour Scheme Management Board has revealed its 3 options (out of 15) to be worked up in more detail for Feb 2012.  One of the 3 options is an ambitious Albert Pier option.

 The decision was taken by the PHSMB not to set thresholds for meeting cost and programme (time) limits, instead ambitious options were just scored lowly under these headings.    As a result options have not been eliminated because they appear unlikely to meet cost or programme constraints.   This may prove to be an issue when the Albert Pier option is worked up in more detail.  The other two shortlisted options are significantly lower risk.

 The Hyder Consulting report is available under “files” (Pz Harbour Short-List Report – Dec 2011)


Rough Water at Pz Harbour Public Meeting on 17 Nov 2011

posted Nov 18, 2011, 1:28 PM by Richard Cliffe   [ updated Dec 7, 2011, 2:20 PM ]

On Thursday 17 Nov 2011 there was a public meeting in St Johns Hall to launch the Penzance Harbour Options Review, a project run by Penzance Town Council to try and find an acceptable scheme to improve Penzance Harbour IOS link facilities.  On the platform were Cllr Jon Pender (Chair), Hadrian Pigott (Chair Penzance Seafront Forum) and Nigel Horwell (Hyder Consulting). The Hall was packed with no seats to spare. 

 Andrew George MP spoke about the constraints on the project imposed by the DfT.  He managed to avoid overtly politicizing the matter which will have been a relief to members of Penzance Harbour Scheme Management Board

 It was a difficult meeting with passions clearly not having subsided from earlier in the year.  The purpose of the meeting was to explain the scope of the options review and the process by which it would be delivered so that members of the public could contribute appropriately. 

 It quickly became obvious that there was lobby pursuing an Albert Pier solution and wanting other options excluded.  There was a call for a vote which the Chairman resisted as inappropriate at this early stage.  In the event a well known Friend of Penzance Harbour usurped the Chairman and proposed a vote only to find that most attendees were of a more rational mindset and wanted to know all of the possibilities before excluding many of them by only looking at Albert Pier.   The vote was almost 3 to 1 in favour of considering all the options first.

 (Note.  Albert Pier is no panacea given the extensive use of this Pier by recreational harbour users, leisure businesses and the soon to be constructed Penwith College Watersports Centre.  Follow this link for more information about the Watersports Centre:


What to Make a Suggestion?

 If you want to make a suggestion about the future harbour scheme then download the form at  and return it to one of addresses listed.  Do this soon (within 7 days)

 Want to Participate in a Workshop (Thu 24 Nov).  

 See details on the feedback form above.



Public Meeting on 17 Nov - MP speaking

posted Nov 16, 2011, 1:40 PM by Richard Cliffe

The Penzance Town Council led Penzance Harbour Options Review kicks off tomorrow, Thursday 17 Nov at 19.30 in St Johns Hall.  Andrew George MP will be present and will be speaking about the advice from the DfT about the constraints on the project.  The meeting is your opportunity to understand what is proposed, ask questions and make suggestions (provided they are in good taste).

 Most of the constituent members groups of True Friends actively support the Penzance Seafront Forum and none of our supporting groups opposes it even if skeptical of the chances for success.  The Forum is a community group set up to try and develop a consensus about the future of Penzance Seafront.  We encourage you to keep in touch and support its activities by signing up for the newsletter and following its activities on Facebook and even Twitter if so minded. 

Attached is a copy of the Consultants Brief for the 2011 Options Review and also the text (but diagrams unfortunately) of the 2004 Options Review.

Options Review – Public Meeting 17 Nov 2011 (St John Hall)

posted Nov 8, 2011, 7:37 PM by Richard Cliffe   [ updated Nov 8, 2011, 7:49 PM ]

The Penzance Harbour Options Review will be launched with a public meeting in St John’s Hall on Thursday 17 Nov at 7.30 pm. There will be presentations to explain the scope of the options review and the process that will deliver it. 

The flyer for the 17 Nov public meeting is attached below.  There will be a website for the new project at: (Live from 12/11/2011).  It is intended that the Consultants Brief for the Options Review will be available on this new website.

Editors Comment.

Public meetings on the topic of Penzance harbour have an uneviable reputation for generating alot of smoke and emotion but little light.  However, if Penzance is to move on from the wreckage of the Route Partnership Project it is important that the forthcoming meeting is well attended and by a representative cross-section of the local community.    Penzance desparately needs to up its game and foster an intelligent and informed debate about the future of its Harbour.  We are in the ‘Last Chance Saloon’ for a DofT /ERDF funded project for Penzance Harbour.  Please make a point of attending this event and take a friend (perhaps several).  

To sign up for the Penzance Seafront Forum newsletter go to


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