An Improved Scheme for the Isles of Scilly Link
Saves around £25m compared with Cornwall Council scheme, provides a stimulus for economic growth and regeneration, makes the most of local resources, conserves coastal heritage, and dramatically reduces the risk to the Council and to council-tax payers.
In response to calls from the Department of Transport (DfT) for budget cuts and rumours that Cornwall Council are about to commit additional Council funds to the scheme, the Penzance Business Network (PzBN) are calling on councillors and the public to support a fully-costed alternative Isles of Scilly Link scheme that would address key issues in Penzance, win DfT support,and place Cornwall Council tax payers at less risk.
The full proposal can be downloaded from http://www.pzbnetwork.com/optionpz/option-pz-plus-with-unit-18.html It involves retaining the tried and tested two ship approach, consolidating freight away from the congested and historic harbour, a new passenger terminal on an existing harbour-side site, and a long-term strategy for sea defences that addresses sea-level rise without harming the town’s coastal economic assets.
Cornwall Council’s own negotiations with the Department for Transport appear deadlocked, with the Council refusing to modify their proposal and saying that if it isn’t accepted they will walk away. However, the DfT is refusing to fund the existing scheme to the extent that the Council wants – not just because of public spending cuts, but because they consider it to be poor value for money. It is clearly a destructive, over-ambitious and extremely expensive proposal that will not satisfy the practical requirements of a sustainable Isles of Scilly Link.
The PZBN alternative scheme is cheaper, better, less destructive and maximises economic benefits for the level of expenditure. Far from forcing the Council to spend more of the County’s own resources on the project it would actually reduce the Council’s costs and exposure to risk.
The main advantages of the PzBN scheme are:
• it is low cost and low risk because there is no commissioning and operation of an expensive purpose-built new vessel and there is no need for land reclamation from the sea:
• the passenger facilities in Penzance will provide a high quality passenger experience in a building that adds to the public realm of the historic harbour;
• it will provide flexibility for the operators of the Link to provide the best service in an unpredictable social and economic climate;
• it can be affordably funded and delivered within the required timescale, and builds on work already done by Cornwall Council;
• it will provide an immediate kick-start for much needed regeneration of the harbour area in Penzance without having to depend on scarce future funding; and it will preserve what’s best about the Penzance sea front and avoid the blight of massive emplacement of rock armour.
This approach has the support of the local MP, English Heritage, the Commission for Architecture and Built Environment, and the South West Design Review Panel who reviewed the proposal last autumn, stating “Your scheme has the potential to strengthen Penzance as a real place where business, heritage and environment reinforce each other.” These government advisory bodies continue to voice objections to the Council’s plans for Penzance. Penzance Town Council continues to support the pursuit of less damaging alternatives.
With the PzBN alternative there is no need for Cornwall Council to risk a refusal from the DfT orindeed to commit very large additional sums of council-taxpayer money to win DfT support. They have instead an alternative scheme, the main elements of which they have worked up themselves in the past, that will deliver more benefits for less money and have overwhelming support from local people. We hope that Cornwall Council will support Penzance and the IoS Link by adopting this new approach.