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Villagers fight heliport plans

By This is Cornwall  |  Posted: January 29, 2009

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ANGRY residents have banded together to fight plans to relocate helicopter services bound for the Isles of Scilly to an airfield near Land's End.

British International Helicopters (BIH) hopes to close its heliport in Penzance later this year and transfer services to Land's End Aerodrome.

However, residents of villages nearby are appalled at the plans, which they say will blight a tranquil rural paradise.

Sam Brown lives right next door to the aerodrome and said her life will be ruined if helicopter services transfer.

"It will completely shatter the peace and quiet of this area," she said. "I live literally 20-50 yards from the hangar where the helicopter will be stored. The noise and the disturbance will be unbearable.

"I have six horses grazing on a field within yards of where the helicopter will land. They scare easily and could run in the direction of the helicopter. It is an accident waiting to happen."

Mrs Brown said the narrow winding roads of the area could not cope with the extra traffic.

Land's End Aerodrome, near Sennen, is mainly home to Skybus aeroplane flights to and from the Isles of Scilly.

The planes, used by operator the Isles of Scilly Steamship Group, are small and relatively quiet, unlike the Sikorskys used by BIH.

Jon Passingham, who lives at Kelynack, less than a mile away, is the vice-chairman of the Land's End Aerodrome Action Group.

He said the bid to move helicopter flights from Penzance to Land's End should be subject to a full planning application.

"If this is such a wonderful idea, it should be put forward as a planning proposal to give people on both sides the chance to have their say," he said.

"At the moment things are being done in a very underhand way.

"We are concerned citizens and our main concern is that we feel a full public consultation on these plans has not happened."

Mr Passingham said his group would be addressing Penwith Council on the matter on February 4. Mrs Brown will be staging a separate public protest at the aerodrome at 11am on February 7.

The plans to move helicopter flights from Penzance to Land's End were announced after BIH admitted last year that losses on the service had caused a £1.2 million dent in company profits.

However, the shift was delayed until 2010 because facilities at Land's End were not expected to be ready in time.

The move has been unpopular with Penzance businesses and many Scillonians.

There was no-one available for comment from BIH yesterday.

A spokesman from Westward Airways, which runs Land's End Aerodrome and Skybus, said further consultations were ongoing.

"We are aware of some concerns within the local community regarding the relocation of BIH's services to Land's End ahead of the start of the 2010 season," he said. "We are in the process of consulting with Penwith District Council and councillors regarding the relocation and as the process progresses we will be consulting directly with the local community."

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    Gerard Heathcote, St. Levan  |  August 03 2009, 9:55PM

    I understand the concerns of people living close to Lands End Airport about the move of helicopter services from Penzance. Residents of St. Levan and other populated areas on the current flight path from Penzance suffer the noise and disturbance caused by the constant appearance of the helicopter over our houses. The nuisance has increased over the years as the number of helicopters has increased to three. I have complained to The Manager in the past, and more recently, about his refusal to vary the flight path during the day. Until this year, no doubt because of their financial difficulties, they have been operating the service back and forth mostly on the same flight path. This is in contrast to recent times when at least the return journey was over the sea. The flight path passes over St. Buryan and St. Levan schools which in my view is an unacceptable risk. I have requested a copy of the company's risk assessment which by law has to include the risk of the business to the general public. The management have refused to supply such a document. At the very least the helicopter should be forced on health and safety grounds to cover the journey back and forth entirely over the sea. In my view where there is an alternative, helicopters should not be allowed to fly over or near populated areas. It's my belief they have a very poor safety record. Anyone who lives close to the heliport itself must live in dread of a catastrophe. Anyone walking across Morison's car park as the helicopter is landing will realise the potential for a major disaster if the machine crashed there. I have a video record of this which I intend to publish on Utube to illustrate the point. Walk across the car park at B and Q as the helicopter takes off and the smell of aviation fuel hangs in the air. I have a letter from the Manager at BIH in reply to my complaint earlier in the year. The tone of this letter was dismissive. They clearly have no concern for anyone affected by their operations. The clear solution for the helicopter is for it to fly from Newquay.

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    Christian, Penzance  |  March 16 2009, 7:15PM

    I dont have no problems with the fact that it's moving. Im just concerned with what is going there. I believe that this area needs something like a nice bowling ally, or a newer nicer cinema, maybe a night club, and some entertainment facilities. Because this area is a lovley location, it has the beaches, and the coastlines and the fields. But for the local teenagers and kids there is literallty nothing, appart from a few cinemas that is it, in the evening if we want to go bowling or out with our friends or watch a band the nearest place is plymouth, to watch bands or go to a decent bowling ally. i think this would work really well with this area and i think this is what it needs :)

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    jeff eastick, oakley , hampshire  |  January 30 2009, 7:51PM

    We havebeen regular annual users of LandsEnd airfield via Skybus , since they first started and access to the site is just about adequate. I dread to think of the chaos on the narrow roads around the airfield if all helicopter passengers have to make their way there as well. If this ever comes to fruition , we shall certainly be using Newquay airport for future trips to Scilly , and we spend some time and money in Penzance before and after our flights to Scilly , and that income will be lost to the local economy. Multiply that by several thousand families who might well think the same as we do and that makes a big dent in the Penzance finances. I think this plan will need vary careful consideration by Penwith Council before being allowed to proceed.

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    richard wyatt, bicester  |  January 29 2009, 9:12PM

    yeh i also visit often, i got a much better idea, whoever had the idea in the first place, lets put it right near there backgarden n see if they like it. the only good thing it will do is dry the washing quickly. so, dont be so inconsiderate and think about other people rather than profits and money because lets face it thats all this is about. WE WILL NOT LAY DOWN AND WILL NOT GIVE UP THIS FIGHT! POWER TO THE PEOPLE!!!!!!!!

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    Felicity Wyatt, Bicester, Oxon  |  January 29 2009, 4:43PM

    I often visit the area next to this proposed site and am devestated to hear the helicoptor plans. Miss Brown is quite right it will totally destroy the area. It should not be allowed to happen

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