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Boaters fear seaplane will restrict use of Little Russel

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CONCERNS have been raised by the boating fraternity that a commercial seaplane operation could restrict how other people use the sea.

The Little Russel is a busy area on a nice summer’s day and the local boating community is concerned that use of the sea off the harbour will be restricted when a planned seaplane service starts. (Picture by Tony Rive)

On a busy day, the Little Russel can be used by a variety of marine craft – cruise ships, inter-island ferries, paddle boarders, private and commercial boats, rowers, windsurfers and jet skiers.

Clear Harbour Airways has had its air operator’s certificate approved but needs a route licence before launching as planned in July.

It plans to use a 14-seat de Havilland Single Otter seaplane on a 45-minute trip between St Peter Port and St Helier.

Guernsey Yacht Club commodore Clive Le Tissier, speaking in a personal capacity, said while he applauded new ideas, he found it difficult to understand where the seaplane would be able to put down safely.

‘Yet again, it seems that local knowledge and experience has been overlooked in favour of UK consultants in determining what is in the best interests of our beloved Guernsey,’ he said.

‘I am both a pilot and a yachtsman. With the lack of consultation, I have serious concerns over the safety of the operation and am worried that the islanders’ inherent right to use the open waters outside our marinas will be restricted or even curtailed.’

Guernsey Boatowners’ Association president Nick Guillemette said he thought it was a ‘crazy’ idea as the harbour was already busy. ‘The whole idea is foolhardy. I’d rather see the money used on the inter-island [ferry] service between Guernsey and Jersey,’ he said.

‘I understand there will be a presentation soon on their plans but I haven’t seen it yet.

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‘But what I have seen about the offloading, it will add to the problem.’

Ports of Jersey has appointed a consultant to do a risk assessment for St Helier harbour.

If successful, the seaplane operation could expand to include Alderney.

Augusta Oliver

By Augusta Oliver
Reporter

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