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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.  

 Website:   www.frist.org.uk

 Facebook Group:  http://www.facebook.com/groups/212623108867469/

 Twitter:    www.twitter.com/FRIST_IOS



Richard Cliffe,
Aug 17, 2012, 4:19 PM