gordon stokes photography

Isles of Scilly - issues relating to peripherality

The following were my thoughts when leaving the Isles of Scilly after visiting them in 2012. I've added more at the foot of the page since 2012 to show how islanders are trying to solve the issues.

The Isles of Scilly are a place of rare beauty. They lie about 30 miles off the tip of Cornwall, and consist of five inhabited islands and hundreds of other smaller islands and rocky outcrops.

They have a warmer and generally sunnier climate than the rest of the UK. The beaches are generally almost white, and there's hundreds of them.

But they have their problems. Being out in the Atlantic, the weather can be rough, with high winds a particular problem.

It was always the case that the boat and the aeroplanes were often cancelled because of the weather, and the helicopter from Penzance the only reliable way of reaching the islands.

But since the end of October 2012 the helicopter has stopped operating, and the boat doesn't run during the winter. Over Christmas 2012 (as happens many other times) planes could also not run, leaving real problems for anyone wanting to get to or from the islands

The islands depend on tourism as a mainstay of their economy. But also very important is that transport for island produce such as early season flowers will become unreliable, and islanders will have difficulty getting to the mainland for things they need such as specialist and emergency healthcare.

The Scottish government sees the importance of transport to and from its islands for the well being of the communities, but it seems that's not the case in England.

Since 2012

Since 2012 the number of small planes has increased and the islands have survived, though with lower visitor numbers after 2012. In May 2018 a smaller helicopter service started running, run by the Steamship Company, who also run the Scillonian boat and the Aeroplanes. They have actively campaigned against the re-introduction of helicopter services from Penzance. In early 2019 they withdrew their own helicopter service, but currently (late 2019) it is expected that helicopters will start in March 2020 from Penzance Heliport and operated by Penzance Helicopters. More up to date information on transport issues can be found from FRIST's facebook page (FRiends of Isles of Scilly Transport) .

There are other related problems. Just being remote causes problems for those needing treatment on the mainland at the hospital at Truro. A new charitable organisation set up in 2019 "The Island Haven" is raising funds to buy a house close to the Royal Cornwall Hospital at Truro for patients and their families, when needed. I think they're worthy of support.


Back to Isles of Scilly
Back to Index

© Gordon Stokes, 2012-2019