Seaplane company is buoyed by authorities’ positivity
THE company behind a proposed seaplane service has been encouraged by the response from the authorities as it looks to launch later this year.
It would see planes take off and land in the approach to the harbours of St Peter Port and St Helier, but is still
awaiting approval from the harbour authority in Jersey following a consultancy survey.
Ben Hill, founder of Clear Harbour Airways, met representatives from interest groups, Policy & Resources president Gavin St Pier and its investors, Harbour Air Seaplanes and Zongshen Industrial Group, recently.
‘Our prospective investors in Clear Harbour Airways were over in Guernsey and they met with the director of civil aviation, Guernsey Airports and Guernsey Harbours to discuss our operation,’ he said.
‘They were very impressed with their level of willingness to accept our seaplane service in St Peter Port and the level of commerciality shown when considering our operation.
‘We were also welcomed by Deputy Gavin St Pier, who has been very supportive of our service and how it will increase the frequency and ease of movement between the Channel Islands.
‘The support we have had from Guernsey’s government and their willingness to look at broader opportunities was noted by our guests.
‘Ports of Jersey have engaged Marico Marine to carry out a navigational safety risk assessment for St Helier Harbour and as part of this process Marico conducted a series of meetings with commercial and leisure users of St Helier Harbour to allow us to explain how we are looking to run our seaplane service.’
Boat owners’ associations in both Jersey and Guernsey have voiced concerns about the plans.
William Simpson, the association chairman in Jersey, said the planes would ‘present a serious danger to leisure craft’ and Nick Guillemette, the president of the Guernsey association, called the idea ‘crazy’. However Mr Hill said he was encouraged by the meetings in Jersey.
‘We have been grateful for the positive reactions we have received in the press including those from the Jersey Fisherman’s Association but equally respect the due process that is being conducted by the harbour master through Marico. Whilst this is on going it would be improper to comment on any prospective start date,’ he said.
However, Jersey Fishermen’s Association president Don Thompson said that he thought the fishing industry was open-minded and that they would be willing to put up with small delays.
‘It is a really interesting project. Speaking as the president of the association I do not think it is something we would want to oppose. I get a feeling that other sectors are just 100% against it,’ he said.
The Guernsey Fishermen’s Association is chaired by Deputy Barry Paint who is also the
president of the Transport Licensing Authority.
Mr Hill said: ‘Our meeting with representatives of the marine groups in Guernsey was well attended and we were able to clearly explain our proposed operation to them.
‘On the whole we believe that we have been well received in both Guernsey and in Jersey. The meetings we’ve had recently have enabled us to provide the public with more information about our service and to hopefully help mitigate some of their concerns.’ he said.