Financial Viability FAQlink to question and initial answer

Further answer 21 March 2013:

Lessons from London and Matlock Bath (21 March 2013):   

1.   The facts suggest it would be a good idea to pay particular attention to the financial viability, or otherwise, of Longleat's forthcoming cable car proposals. Now, March 2013, London's cable car across the Thames (a.k.a. Emirates Air Line) is not yet finding its feet.  (Incidentally, the "Emirates Air Line" sponsorship of the London cable car brings to mind the Gulf States and the difference between Dubai and Oman: Dubai's flash shopping and skyscrapers contrasting with Oman's natural heritage, wildlife and traditional culture.)

2.   For all sorts of reasons, Longleat cable car passenger numbers might never reach capacity.   Or, after initial public interest, people might loose interest all too soon, e.g. if some other place offers a longer or more exciting ride to a destination that is more compelling in some way.  Longleat's initial costs would not be as high as those in London.  Nevertheless, London's schedule of payments is interesting when you think about the passenger numbers needed to repay capital costs link .  After the Olympics, Thames cable car passenger numbers were less than 10% of capacity according to Wikipedia , falling to as low as 300 per day in November 2012.  In 2013, falling passenger numbers were the result of closures due to weather link, high winds and maintenance link

3.   London has a population of 12-14 million and 15.3 million international visitors in 2011 (Wikipedia), so it wouldn't be surprising if the Thames cable car footfall increases after the slow start, e.g.  This summer might bring more willing tourists, or the ticketing prices and rules could be altered to increase resident/commuter footfall.  Alternatively, achieving desired cable car footfall might not happen until the building of Boris's floating village dream link .  For now, the Thames cable car Adult return ticket price is £8.60, Adult Concessions £6.40: poor ride value for money according to MayorWatch link: "A ride on the Eye will last about 30 minutes link  and tickets are available from just £15 link – that’s 50p per minute of travel. By comparison a round trip on Boris’s cable car is only guaranteed to last 10 minutes link and will cost you £6.40 or 64p per minute."

4.   By way of comparison, the Heights of Abraham in Matlock Bath link  is more expensive, Adult £13.50 and Seniors £11, for a ride duration too short to mention on their cable car facts webpage.  In all fairness, that price does include 'free' access to Cavern Tours, Exhibitions, Adventure Playground, Picnic Areas, Terrace Cafe, Vista Bar and Restaurant, Treetops Gift Shop, Rock Shop, a summit tower and many paths to walk around 60 acres of wooded hillside.   These Heights of Abraham developments are in an area of historic lead mines, and not in a Special Area of Conservation (page on this website), with ecologically sensitive species-rich grassland, vulnerable to erosion.

5.   What 'ride value' would a Longleat cable car over the Cheddar Yeo offer?  It would be an un-mentionably short ride over a culverted river, to a great view but no other "Attractions".   There would be no chance of building a Boris floating village underneath if more passengers were needed, urgently.   However, at the Sedgemoor Development Committee meeting on 15th February 2013 (which agreed a new Sainsbury's supermarket), it was reported that Sedgemoor's Landscape Officer thinks the new Sainsbury's will improve the views from the Mendip Hills AONB.   So Longleat  may now be expecting higher numbers of people wanting to see the view so enhanced by the new Sainsbury's roofs.

6.   What are Longleat's predicted passenger numbers?   (See page on this website, paragraph 8)   Are their numbers realistic?  What are Longleat's financial projections, including for 'worst-case' scenarios?  Installation costs could be higher than planned, due to unpredictable weather or unexpected geological problems, e.g. Bristol Water's Axbridge pipeline has been delayed by a year because of the weather and technical problems link.  Unpredictable weather extremes could cause more frequent closures than anticipated, or more frequent maintenance than usual, with consequent lower passenger numbers. Maintenance closures could last longer than expected if the supply chain for spare parts were to become unreliable for any reason, e.g. weather or fuel shortages, and specialist maintenance engineers could be delayed for the same reasons.

7.   Instead of going for 'theme park'  'attractions', there's still time for wiser 'plan B' alternatives, with Longleat choosing to make more resilient investments, playing to Cheddar's environmental and wildlife strengths.  It's only March, so we can still hope.

21 March 2013