Government Intervenes In Penzance Heliport Supermarket Bid

The Chief Executive of British International Helicopters says the company is still preparing to move to Newquay in November even though the Government has intervened in Sainsbury’s planning application to build a superstore on the existing heliport site in Penzance.

Cornwall planners approved the change of use to a superstore last October but the Government’s Planning Advisory Unit wants to have the final say and Tony Jones says it is out of his hands.

We understand there’s been close scrutiny of the company’s proposals following objections from St Erth villagers, when the company wanted to move from Penzance to the village.

Tony has no idea when the Government department, which falls within Minister Eric Pickles’ portfolio, will make an announcement.

He says the decisions about staff relocation to Newquay can’t be made until he finds out what is going on with the Sainsbury’s planning application.

Local MP Andrew George says he will see if he can help if asked, but has said he isn’t a fan of out-of-town supermarket proposals.

Elsewhere, the Department for Transport has announced that BIH is part of a consortium bidding to operate the search and rescue helicopter service from RNAS Culdrose and several other locations around the UK.

BIH is a member of the Osprey Consortium, which also comprises Babcock Aerospace and ERA Helicopters. Other companies bidding for the contracts include Bond Offshore Helicopters, Bristow Helicopters and Eurocopter UK.

The contracts, which are due to start early in 2013, are being tendered in two lots, the first serving the vicinities of Sumburgh, Stornoway, Culdrose, Leconfield and Valley, with the second serving Lee-on-the-Solent, Chivenor, Prestwick, Lossiemouth and Wattisham.

Tony Jones says he has signed commercial confidentiality agreements, which forbid him from making any public comments.

We understand senior staff members were involved in discussions, but not all St Mary’s workers were aware of the company’s involvement with the consortium.

One worker told us he hoped it would show the company was interested in maintaining its connection to our area and that’s a view echoed by Andrew George.

Andrew says gaining the Culdrose contract would end suggestions that the company had not got a long-term interest in West Cornwall and he would welcome British International Helicopters being “more active in the area.”


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