Delay To Land’s End Runway Hardening is ‘Temporary Setback’

lands end airportThe hard surfacing of Land’s End airport, which was due to start next month, is likely to be delayed until the spring.

It had been hoped that creation of a hard runway would prevent the waterlogging that caused major disruption to flights and closed the facility for around three months last winter.

Last month, the Steamship Company announced it would be closing the airport for three weeks in November to allow the work to take place.

However, just a few weeks before the work is due to the start, those plans are now on hold after costs escalated.

The Council’s Strategic Investment Manager, Diana Mompoloki, says the project went through the proper tendering process.

But after the contract was awarded, the company that won the work then found it couldn’t deliver it at the price that was agreed.

EU rules mean that they can’t just award the work to the next company that bid for it – they have to start the whole process again.

Diana says that the extra time has allowed them to look at trimming some of the costs, like having a smaller apron and taxiway and less lighting.

That will give them “more wriggle room” on costs, she says.

Diana says it’s also “completely feasible” to complete the new tendering process by next spring.

And the extra time will allow them to change the way the runway hardening takes place. That means they might not have to close the airport at all, an important consideration at the start of the tourism season.

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This is just a temporary setback,” says Diana, who added that the work to resurface St Mary’s is under a different contract and there should be no impact at this end of the project.

Steamship Company Chairman, Andrew May says it’s disappointing for the passengers as well as the staff who have worked hard on the project.

Andrew admits that the change in plans is very short notice, but emphasises it’s only a delay and the work hasn’t been canalled.

The project is being managed by the Council, with half of the costs coming from European Regional Development Fund and half from the Steamship Company.

Andrew May says the company completely supports the Council in the decision they’ve made.

He says it’s better to take the decision now rather than “to repent in leisure.”

And he’s hoping for better weather this winter. The extension of the Scillonian III sailings into December will provide some extra resilience, says Andrew.

The company has also installed extra drainage at Land’s End, before the hardening work takes place.

That means the runway could be less susceptible to waterlogging this winter.

Andrew says he appreciate that people have already planned around the closure this winter and the new announcement is unsettling, but he says they’ll do all they can to accommodate any problems.

And there are some advantages to doing the work in spring, he says, when the weather is better and the days are longer.

Transport campaign group FRIST are positive over the delay.

Advisory Group Member Marian Bennett says that, with the drive and energy that has been demonstrated on the project so far, it will get done for next season.

She says the stops have been pulled out by the team from the Isles of Scilly Council and the Steamship Company for the work, which is an essential element of transport infrastructure for the islands.



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