Transport boost to Cornwall and Isles of Scilly if £48m bid approved

The Isles of Scilly lie 28 miles off mainland UK and rely on boats for imports, transport, and tourism.

Transport between Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly will be transformed if a multi-million-pound cash boost from the Government is approved.

The £48 million bid has been submitted to the Levelling Up fund which is intended to help provide new boats and improve travel infrastructure.

Cornwall Council has supported the bid and chairman Robert Francis believes the potential investment could boost the local economy.

He said: "This bid to the Levelling Up Fund is of the utmost importance to the islands as the investment would ensure the preservation and improvement of our lifeline shipping transport for years to come.

Scillonian III, seen here sailing from Penzance, will be replaced if the bid is approved

"In addition to increasing the resilience and accessibility of our sea links, the improvements set out within the bid will radically enhance the customer experience, prioritising comfort and reducing the journey time considerably.

"I am confident that the success of this bid would enable the islands’ main shipping issues to be fixed and mean that further asks from the community relating to transport can be considered in other work streams in the future.

"The finalisation of the bid represents a huge amount of collaboration between stakeholders across the islands and I am grateful to everyone who has worked so hard to get us to the stage of submission within such a tight timeframe."

The Council of the Isles of Scilly is hoping bid will be successful so that existing boats – Scillonian III Gry Maritha, and Lyonnesse Lady - can be replaced with three new vessels.

The new ships would provide a number of benefits with the new passenger vessels would have improved stability and would have faster journey times which would be cut by 20 per cent.

A new cargo vessel would have passenger carrying capacity and a reduced journey time while a new passenger ship will also have improved accessibility helping those with reduced mobility.

The islands lie 28 miles from the Duchy and are reliant on boats for imports, transport, and tourism to support residents, businesses, and visitors.

Support for the bid has come from St Ives MP Derek Thomas and Duchy of Cornwall, Steamship Company, Tresco Estate, and Duchy of Cornwall.

A report from the Council of the Isles of Scilly setting out the need for Levelling Up money states: "If this bid is not successful, it is inevitable that there will be a spiral of economic decline, increasing costs to residents for travel and the essentials of life.

"Ultimately there being no sustainable transport connectivity to the mainland to support the community on the Isles of Scilly.

The bid application states there will be:

  • A 72m passenger/cargo vessel with a 600 passenger capacity, 18 knots, anti-roll fins and hybrid propulsion

  • A 45m cargo vessel with increased cargo capacity, crane capable of lifting 8 tonnes, passenger capacity of 12 passengers

  • A 17m Inter-Island launch with 50% increase in cargo capacity, improved access to tidal restricted quays and 55% fuel reduction.

Harbour improvements would be made at St Mary’s Quay, New Grimsby Quay and Penzance Harbour to meet the requirements for the new vessels and improve accessibility.

Credit: Richard Whitehouse (Local Democracy Reporting Service)