December 12 2013 Latest news:
by JOHN OWENS
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
A REPRIEVE granted to Great Yarmouth’s heliport has been labelled a “big opportunity” for the borough after plans to close it were put on hold.
In November, CHC Helicopter- formerly CHC Scotia Limited- announced plans to shut its North Denes site downin May to move its offshore operations to Norwich International Airport.
The news was met with consternation by many in Yarmouth, who pointed to the 30,000 people who used the Caister Road terminal each year to reach rigs in the North Sea and its drip-down boost for the local economy.
However today CHC Helicopter said that “under current market conditions” the plan to move was not viable at the current time, and would be put on hold.
Among those greeting the decision with enthusiasm was Great Yarmouth Borough Council leader Barry Coleman, who labelled it “excellent news”.
He described the heliport as “symbolic” of Great Yarmouth’s employment for the future and its hopes for offshore and future renewable development.
He said: “We realise they’ve not made a full decision yet but it’s a very important development.
“There’s a big opportunity here. Obviously they’ve reconsidered their options and Yarmouth has not been discounted.”
Under the plans, the heliport’s 74 staff were told they would be given the chance to relocate. CHC Helicopter had previously pointed to the need to invest heavily in new facilities for the site, which has been in use since the 70s.
The proposed headquarters in Norwich, separate from existing facilities, were to be in Saxonair and Klyne Aviation buildings currently under construction.
Mr Coleman emphasised that a lot of work had previously gone on behind the scenes involving the council to make the case for them staying here “though whether that had a part in the decision I don’t know”.
He added that as soon as the news had emerged officers from the council had got in contact with CHC Helicopter to offer assistance, short of anything financial.
“There are hotels and guests houses here that benefit, as well as taxis, and it goes right through the supply chain”.
Commenting on the decision, CHC’s vice president of operations Nick Mair said: “While the proposed move would have represented a significant investment for the company allied to a potentially long term commitment to Norwich, given current market conditions, the solution for CHC is to remain at our present location at North Denes.
“Naturally it is disappointing that we cannot continue with the move at this time and, as an organisation, we remain confident that a move to Norwich would be a positive one, provided it is undertaken at the right time and under the correct market conditions.
“However, we believe now is not that time, hence the decision to end any speculation by confirming the status quo will continue for the time being and that it is very much business as usual for North Denes.”
Business secretary Vince Cable has been issued an ultimatum by two Norfolk MPs to back Caterham Cars proposed move to Norfolk – or risk losing the iconic brand to France.