THE long-delayed £2.6m airport hard surface runway project at Land’s End Airport has finally been given clearance by Europe.
Work was due to take place in November to give the airport near St Just a new tarmac runway.
Flight cancellations have dogged the site recently because of increasingly frequent waterlogging problems with the current grass surface.
But the European Commission wanted to ensure the funding package – and refurbishment of the terminal buildings at St Mary’s – did not break rules about state aid for businesses.
Now the commission’s regulators have said the work, part funded by the European Regional Development Fund, can go ahead.
The news has been welcomed by the Council of the Isles of Scilly and by the Isles of Scilly Steamship Company, which operates the Skybus flights between Land’s End and St Mary’s.
Diana Mompoloki, strategic development officer of the islands’ authority, which has been acting as facilitator for the project, said: “It is a really exciting bit of news.”
It was the first investment aid that the EC has assessed under new aviation guidelines and was treated as a test case.
The commission ruled the £6.5m for the Scilly works couldn’t harm competitor companies because no one else provides flights to Scilly, and that the Land’s End project was in line with EU transport policy goals as it improved Cornwall’s regional accessibility.
Diana Mompoloski said: “It’s nothing to do with finance, we’ve had the funding in place for quite a while.
She said the Belfast construction firm Lagan could be carrying out the Land’s End work concurrently with St Mary’s.
She said: “We’re hoping to do Land’s End sooner rather than later.”
Rob Goldsmith, chief executive of the Isles of Scilly Steamship Company, said: “We are delighted that the European Commission has concluded there are no state aid issues with helping to fund this essential investment in the transport infrastructure at Land’s End and also at St Mary’s.
“Having cleared this hurdle, the next step is for formal contracts to be exchanged between the UK Government and the Council of the Isles of Scilly and we can then decide exactly when to carry out the work.”