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Seaplane meeting fails to allay boat owners’ fears over service

News | Published:

A MEETING held to discuss the possibility of an inter-island seaplane service operating in the approach channels to the Harbour has failed to allay boat owners’ concerns over the initiative, the chairman of the St Helier Boat Owners’ Association has said.

William Simpson, chairman of the St Helier Boat Owners Association

On Wednesday representatives from the company behind the proposed operation, Clear Harbour Airways, and 70 interested Islanders met at the Albert Pier ferry terminal to discuss the plans.

The meeting was held as part of a consultation process and risk assessment ordered by Ports of Jersey into the planned service, which the operator hopes could launch this summer.

Speaking after the meeting, William Simpson, chairman of the St Helier Boat Owners’ Association, said that although the meeting had been well attended not enough detail had been given about the proposed operation.

‘In a nutshell, it did not tell us anything we did not already know. We really wanted to know about where the flightpath and runways would be but it does not seem that they have developed a plan to that extent yet,’ he said.

‘Until they do that it will be quite difficult to say if certain things do or do not work.’

Mr Simpson added that most of the people who spoke at the meeting had raised concerns about where the aircraft were due to land and take off from.

He also said he hoped that boat owners and other interested parties would be approached again before any decision is made on whether to allow the service to go ahead.

‘I think everybody at the meeting agreed that at busy times it was almost inevitable that there would be disruption to boats or planes,’ he said.

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‘If you pick a sunny weekend in the summer, the Small Roads are extremely busy. It can often be quite challenging for the ferries to get in and out of the Harbour without having boats crossing close to their bows.

‘It would not get easier if planes were involved.’

The chairman also said that he and many others were supportive of a seaplane service being set up between Jersey and Guernsey but added that it needed to be based in a quieter area.

‘I think they would find the operation a lot easier if they ran it from the east of the Island where the Atlantic swells would not affect them as much,’ he said.

‘At St Catherine there is a lot of space and I would imagine it would be quite feasible to do it there but I do not think it ticks the box for them with regards to carrying out a town-to-town service.’

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