Having experienced travel by seaplanes in Canada and noticing that the geography, costs and legislation are roughly similar; I consider that seaplane services could be viable in East Anglia and their feasibility as transport infrastructure should be studied further. However it is a chicken and egg situation. My investigation into obtaining grant aid from the Technology Strategy Board for a feasibility study finds that I must be a capitalist with matched funding and have intellectual property to stake on the project. Sadly I have neither. Surely there is a means somehow to fund a study to prove (or disprove) the case for developing local transport infrastructure and amenities without requiring private equity? I set out my case here in the hope that someone can advise me further.
Addendum: scroll to the end to see some results of enquiries.
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The barriers to seaplane operations in the UK are not the natural conditions but the lack of a strategic policy commitment in government. A report on regulations by FUSETRA concluded: “The seaplane and amphibian operation in Europe is a niche market and it is out of the focus of the involved authorities…”
The FUSETRA program is studying the potential of seaplane transport and the ways to harmonize across Europe the different national aviation rules. Its initial reports concluded that there will be many benefits in developing a European seaplane industry.
A University of Glasgow presentation outlining the enormous potential for seaplanes.(pdf)
In 2007 Mott Macdonald transport consultants looked into what are now operational routes in Scotland.
I wrote to Suffolk County Council to suggest they commission a seaplane feasibility study and got this reply by email.
I also gave this presentation in person (very quickly) to my MP and followed it up with an email. Rather than encourage or endorse this idea, she replied to my question about research grants by passing it to the Department for Transport. Their reply is that the private sector should be the ones to do this and it should not be supported by the taxpayer. The reply says look for advice at http://www.dft.gov.uk/topics/science-research/external
I also wrote to the UK's research councils for advice. On the 7th September I got the reply:
...Unfortunately the field that you describe is not an area within which the Economic and Social Research Council is active. You may wish to approach the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (www.epsrc.ac.uk), who may be able to be of assistance.
>I would be grateful if someone could give me any advice on how I can influence the research priorities of the government or the appropriate research councils to consider investment in amphibious aircraft technology and infrastructure in the UK.
>EPSRC does indeed support research and PhD Training into advanced engineering which underpins some of the areas you describe in your e-mail.
However, EPSRC is not a policy organisation or lobby group in a position to influence government policy in this area directly.
Some of the research groups we support may be able to advise on how to raise funding for developing the infrastructure you describe. You can find more information about relevant EPSRC-funded groups on our website www.epsrc.ac.uk (see Grants on the Web option http://gow.epsrc.ac.uk/).