Cornwall Council offers to back first phase of work on ferry link
Cornwall Council leaders have written to Government ministers offering to back proposals to dredge Penzance harbour as a sign that it backs securing a sea link with the Isles of Scilly.
Earlier this month, proposals to upgrade the harbour failed to get full backing, leaving a question mark over the future of the Isles of Scilly ferry link.
Penzance Town Council drew up the proposals to modernise facilities and while Cornwall Council supported the scheme, a difference of opinion emerged between the two regarding the legality of the project.
Alec Robertson, leader of Cornwall Council, said changes were required to the harbour revision order – the structural framework within which work can be delivered. He said any scheme has to fall within the works approved by the current harbour revision orders.
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Mr Robertson said the proposals would require a fresh harbour revision order.
However, any alternations could result in failure to comply with a looming funding deadline imposed by the Department for Transport (DfT), he said.
Mr Robertson insisted an amendment to part of the scheme was needed and wrote to the Town Council indicating willingness to jointly promote the proposals.
In the latest development Kevin Lavery, chief executive of the authority, has penned a letter to John Dowie, DfT's Director of Local Transport, in which he offers to back the first phase of the works to dredge the harbour and lengthen the quay at St Mary's.
The council would not foot the bill for the work and believe money would be drawn from successful bids for Government and EU Convergence funding – dredging is expected to cost about £1.5 million.
Mr Lavery writes: "These measures will provide more deep water mooring, enhanced protection to the vessel berths and increase the flexibility to accommodate vessels at a greater range of tidal conditions.
"This last aspect is particularly important because the Steamship Company has stated that it is leaving all options open for the type and number of vessels it might adopt when the time comes to replace the Scillonian III and Gry Maritha.
"While we share the commitment of Penzance Town Council to maintain the sea link, their wider scheme would require a fresh Harbour Revision Order which could not be obtained within the deadline for European funding. The revised proposal for Penzance harbour will meet the Secretary of State's requirements for a simpler, more cost effective scheme as it significantly reduces the capital costs."