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Pz Business Network re-issues Option Pz

posted Mar 15, 2011, 8:57 AM by Richard Cliffe

Penzance Business Network (PBN) has recently re-issued "Option Pz, its alternative solution for Penzance Harbour and the IOS Ferry Link,  promoted by Andrew George MP.  Its re-issue comes in the last 14 days before the expected Department of Transport funding decision expected by the end of May.  The PBN brief is attached to this news item.


Comment.

The re-issue of Option Pz is seen as an attempt to 'muddy the waters' in the run up to the decision.  It is a tactic being repeated because the Option Pz public roll out (chaired by Andrew George MP) took place on 3 Mar 2011, just a few days before the critical Strategic Planning Committee meeting on 8 March 2010 at which Listed Building Consent/Planning Permission were recommended.

Option Pz is seen as having no prospect whatsoever of ever being delivered (see problems below).  It can however help maintain divisions in the local community (by suggesting there is an easy option wilfully ignored) and reinforce that image in the minds of decisionmakers.


Problems with Option Pz (and proposed 2 vessel solution)

Any solution with two vessels cannot afford a winter ferry service for the Islanders (extra fuel and staff costs mainly). There was a winter service from 1920 until 1990.  The Islanders need a winter service now and one will be absolutely essential with the expected loss of the helicopter service.

 The IOSSC proposed fall back solution (2 replacement second- hand vessels) requires Option A works on Penzance Harbour for efficiency, safety and regulatory compliance (they said so 1 March 2011 to the DofT).

 No major works on Penzance Harbour means no sea defence for South Pier & The Barbican.  There are safety issues (for people and the vessel) in doing nothing.  The proposed Option Pz offshore sea defence is vastly expensive and difficult to get environmental approval for.

 A separate remote freight area for just 38 tons of freight a day adds a lot of costs on to the IOSSC’s operation.  Only part of the freight can be containerized, other freight gets delivered direct to the Pier where there needs to be space, equipment and staff to handle it anyway.

The proposed new terminal (Option A) is built on an area needing sea defence.  If the area of Battery Rocks Beach to be reclaimed was not reclaimed it would be need an alternative sea defence solution – rock armour like the rest of South Pier is likely.

 The Option A solution is a complete solution that will last 25 – 50 years and survive the expected effects of climate change.  Option Pz is short term and relies on an ill- defined sea defence barrage in Mounts Bay.  The resources for such a scheme are not available in the medium term and may never be available.

Option Pz is cheaper because it postpones any sea defence improvements into the indefinite future.  It also ignores the Islanders requirements for a winter service.

 Risk.  The Option Pz solution with IOSSC operating two new (second hand) vessels is high risk because:

  • Too late for ERDF money (larger Govt grant required)
  • Uncertainty over the cost of buying out Penwith Marine and The Waterside Meadery leases and relocation costs.
  • Regulatory uncertainty over lack of sea defence for Pier, traffic arrangements etc.
  • Financial uncertainty created by cost to IOSSC of operating a remote freight area.
  • Financial uncertainty over IOSSC ability to raise the necessary finance for new vessels.
  • Technical and operational uncertainty over IOSSC’s proposed replacement ferry vessel. 
  • Regulatory uncertainty over licensing of IOSSC proposed vessel – it was not built for the Atlantic Ocean (or any Ocean).
  • Risk of link failure due to problems with the proposed new ferry or inadequately protected Pier (not built for ocean environment, MCA might restrict licence or even withdraw it following an incident, HSE may intervene over unsafe quay operations).
  • Risk of IOSSC running into financial trouble due to higher costs (extra freight depot), cost of repaying borrowing and reduced revenue due to much smaller passenger capacity.
  • Political uncertainty over the public acceptability of the  proposed glass and steel terminal building and also sea defences likely to be forced into Option Pz to gain approvals.
  • Risk of squandering funds on working up Option Pz to find it cannot proceed (for political, regulatory or operational reasons).

 The local contribution from Council Tax payers is currently zero. The proposed prudential borrowing (£10 million but £15 million likely) is paid for by the charter fee which is already agreed with the IOSSC. The Council can be expected to pick up some cost overruns but these would have to be large to exceed the value of the defensive works on Penzance Harbour which the Council would otherwise have to fund themselves in the future directly out of local raised taxes.

 

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Richard Cliffe,
Mar 15, 2011, 9:50 AM
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