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Row over resurrection Penzance to Isle of Scilly helicopter

Currently the Skybus planes and Scillonian ferry are the only links to the islands. Photo: ITV West Country

A row has broken out over plans to restart a helicopter service to the Isles of Scilly - with the owners of a rival air and sea service saying it threatens their financial future and the islands economy.

There hasn't been a helicopter operating for the last 4 years. Credit: ITV West Country

They say there isn't enough tourist trade to sustain two rival businesses - but the backers of the helicopter service have accused them of being afraid of competition.

For the past four years the Scillonian ferry and Skybus planes have kept alive the Isles of Scilly's vital tourism economy. But the company which runs the services is worried about the impact of a proposed rival helicopter service.

Skybus are worried about the impact of another operator. Credit: ITV West Country

In early February Cornwall planners will decide whether the proposed site on the edge of Penzance is suitable for a new heliport. It's only a stone's throw from the old one.

If the service gets off the ground the first helicopters will fly in 2018.

Credit: ITV West Country

There was a helicopter link to the islands for fifty years but that ceased towards the end of 2012.

Since then the Isles of Steamship Company has invested more than twelve million pounds in its ferry and air services. It is the islands' sole transport provider .

The Isles of Steamship Company is currently the islands' sole transport provider. Credit: ITV West Country

The man behind the bid to revive a helicopter service is Robert Dorrien-Smith who runs the island of Tresco. He spoke to us last September.

Robert Dorrien-Smith runs the island of Tresco. Credit: ITV West Country

Dick Cliffe is a member of a campaign group that backs plans for a new helicopter service.

Dick Cliffe supports the plans. Credit: ITV West Country

The fixed wing service is just operationally constrained by wind and weather and if you just look at the last three months the service has been incredibly unreliable.

– Dick Cliffe

The steamship company says it is now investing half a million pounds in state of the art navigation systems to make its fleet of planes more weather resilient.Steve Hardy ITV News Land's End.