Risk assessment is ordered over operation of seaplane
A SEAPLANE link between Jersey and Guernsey could be in place by the summer if harbour users give it their backing and safety requirements can be met.
At a time when inter-island links are high on the political agenda, with plans for a new ferry provider to run between the islands, Ports of Jersey is launching a consultation over the seaplane service, which could begin operating from the Albert Pier within months.
Harbourmaster Bill Sadler has tasked a UK consultancy company with carrying out a risk assessment of the proposed operation, which would run between St Helier and St Peter Port in Guernsey.
The assessment’s main aim is to define the risks of aircraft landing in the ‘small roads’ approach to the Harbour, which sits between Elizabeth Castle breakwater and the Harbour entrance.
Clear Harbour Airways, the company behind the project, say that the service could launch in June.
And it says that it has already put down a non-refundable deposit on an aircraft, which is currently in Canada.
Explaining why the risk assessment needed to go ahead, Mr Sadler said: ‘It could say “Goodness me, there is no way this could happen” but I think it is unlikely to say it is not possible but will probably say that we need to do “X, Y and Z”.
‘We are still in the very early stages but we need to think of things such as where it might go – it could be the number two berth on the Albert Pier, near where the Duke of Normandy tug goes, but the finer details are not there yet.’
He added: ‘We also need to do some research as to whether aviation or maritime security applies.
‘I have also directed them to conduct a noise impact study.’
If the service does launch successfully, it would not be the first time that a seaplane has landed in the Harbour. In May 2016, during the Jersey Boat Show, a De Havilland Beaver seaplane landed near the Harbour before being escorted to the Albert Pier by a pilot boat.
Mr Sadler, who was on the pilot boat at the time, added: ‘When it was here for the boat show we used the red lights on the VTS [vessel transit service] tower to stop marine traffic and had guard boats out to make sure it could get in safely.
‘I have got lots of ideas about what we should do but I do not want to jump the gun before the assessment has been done – we need to work from the bottom up.’
Meanwhile, Ben Hill, chief executive of Clear Harbour Airways, added that he was pleased the project was moving forward.
‘I have been working on this for over a year so it is good the assessment is going ahead. I think it is a really positive step.
‘If all goes to plan I would hope to have the service up and running by June.’
Provisional results of the risk assessment should be published around the end of the week-long consultation, which is due to begin on 23 April.
To take part in the consultation visit ports.je/jerseyharbours and follow the links to ‘notices to mariners’.