Plans being drawn up to develop a hovercraft link connecting Blackpool to Liverpool and Wales would create scores of new jobs and boost tourism, bosses behind the project say.
Wirral-based company Hoverlink has today unveiled full details of the plans after Welsh MP Chris Ruane spoke in Parliament of the need to establish a hovercraft link in the North West last week.
Simon Clitheroe, the RNLI volunteer who has helped devise the plans, said: “We have been working behind the scenes for the last 18 months planning for the hovercraft.
“We believe we can provide great transport links across the North West, connecting people from places like Rhyl, Blackpool and Liverpool.
“We believe linking to Blackpool to be a key element to our project, with fast link access from Wales and Liverpool, both business customers and tourists can benefit.”
If the plans go ahead, Hoverlink says around 40 to 50 jobs will be created as a result, with around 10 created in Blackpool alone.
Mr Clitheroe, who hopes to captain the hovercraft should the plans go ahead, added: “With Blackpool being a unique area, we believe it is key to provide a transport service that is served in a quick and interesting manner.
“A lot of people I have spoken to from north Wales have been very enthusiastic about the idea of a hovercraft service to Blackpool. They are jumping at the chance.”
Hoverlink has yet to approach Blackpool Council with the plans but hope to shortly after Christmas.
A previous attempt at establishing a hovercraft transport system was made in 2006 by another company, but failed to get off the ground.
But Mr Clitheroe believes will not happen this time due to the quality of the hovercraft.
He added: “Hovercrafts now are more modern, more efficient, and they also operate better in poor weather conditions. We believe that the timing for this is right. The Government is focussing on networking and transportation at the moment, too.”
The hovercraft that Hoverlink are looking to use will cost the firm £5m and will be able to seat 130 people. Mr Clitheroe insists the vehicle would not damage the environment.
He said: “With modern hovercrafts being efficient and environmentally friendly, all due care will be taken in avoiding specific wildlife and conservational areas to ensure no disturbance.
“Our intention is to have the service available by early 2015 linking into traditional transport networks to be able to facilitate onward journeys.”
“We believe that the timing for this is right. The Government are focussing on networking and transportation at the moment, too.”
The hovercraft that Hoverlink is looking to use will cost the firm £5m and will be able to seat 130 people. Mr Clitheroe gave assurances that the pricey vehicle will not damage the environment. The intention is to be running by 2015.
Claire Smith, President of Stay Blackpool, believes the link could be great news for the town. She said: “It sounds like a fabulous idea. Anything that has the potential to bring people to Blackpool is welcome. It is a unique and different way of travel.”