Airport vital to future of Cornwall, debate is told
The loss of flights in and out of Newquay Airport is an absolute disaster in business terms and an ongoing worry to everyone with commercial interests in the county, said Tim Conchie, chief executive of Cornwall Chamber of Commerce, speaking to an audience of 200.
Mr Conchie was answering a question in a wide-ranging debate that opened the second day of the Royal Cornwall Show, organised by the Country Land & Business Association and entitled Keeping Cornwall Competitive.
He said: "This is a big problem, that can't be overplayed," he said. "If we can find a number of airlines to fill the gap left by FlyBe and make the airport economic it would be wonderful." Problems with the railway link last winter had compounded the situation.
Chris Pomfret, chairman of the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership and another of the panel, said there was always going to be a problem running an airport in a community with just half a million people. But he hoped he would soon be able to announce the arrival of a maintenance facility at Newquay, sadly lacking at the moment.
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And Daphne Skinnard, of BBC Radio Cornwall, said the message that there was no longer an air link with Cornwall was undoubtedly a bad one. It was incredibly important for everyone in the county that the airport should be kept going.
They were responding to a question from Anthony Fortescue, from Boconnoc, who had asked if anyone had thought about privatising the airport to keep it going. Toby Ashworth, from the Nare Hotel, said an effort should be made to attract international airlines to fly into Newquay. "That would get more people and more money into our county, rather than simply having an airport for the Cornish to fly out," he said.
On wind farms, Abigail Kirby-Harris asked the panel if new rules would really make a difference to the granting of applications. "Not many visitors want to come to Cornwall to see a hedgehog of wind farms," she said.
Tim Russ, of solicitors Clarke Willmott, told the audience it was becoming enormously difficult to get planning consent for a turbine in most locations. He quite understood the new Government directives about obtaining local consent for developments and rewarding communities who agreed and helped developments.
Mr Pomfret said Cornwall could have the cheapest electricity in England if it successfully tapped the geothermal possibilities that were currently being explored.