Fishermen’s president: Give seaplane project a chance
AN inter-island seaplane service, which would see planes take off and land in the approach to the Harbour, could be viable and Islanders need to give the project a chance, the president of the Jersey Fishermen’s Association has said.
Last week meetings were held between commercial, leisure and environmental stakeholders and representatives from Clear Harbour Air – the company behind the idea.
Ports of Jersey has commissioned specialist consultants Marico Marine to consult with Islanders and carry out a risk assessment regarding the operation of the service.
If it receives permission, the new business is hoping to run daily seaplane services between the Albert Pier and St Peter Port in Guernsey. A number of individuals who attended last week’s sessions, including the chairman of the St Helier Boatowners’ Association, have raised concerns over the viability of aircraft landing and taking off in the Small Roads – the approach channels to the Harbour.
They have also expressed unease over the likely need to close the entrance to the Harbour several times a day while aircraft move in and out of their berths.
However, Jersey Fishermen’s Association president Don Thompson said that he thought the fishing industry was open-minded about the idea 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 per cent against it,’ he said.
‘If we were just held up for a few minutes I think we could probably live with that.
‘I think they are going on the number two berth which is pretty close to the Harbour entrance – so it would not take too long.’
Mr Thompson added that although he thought Jersey’s Harbour could become busy, he was aware that seaplane businesses worked in busier ports elsewhere in the world.
‘I do not think seaplanes working in harbours is a new concept. I am quite sure that the planes have worked in harbours which are a lot more congested than Jersey’s,’ he said.
‘I am prepared to give them the benefit of the doubt and I think we can find ways to work alongside other traffic.
‘I think, in a funny way, the fishing industry is actually quite open-minded to these sorts of things.’