SETTLEMENT of a legal challenge to the use of the linkspan at Douglas harbour will provide the Steam Packet greater certainty to plan for the future.
That’s the view of TravelWatch chairman Brendan O’Friel who believes the ferry operator should now start planning for the replacement of the 15-year-old Ben-my-Chree.
Speaking ahead of TravelWatch’s next public meeting on Saturday, Mr O’Friel said: ‘The Steam Packet is now in a position to plan ahead with a bit more certainty. That’s got to be a good thing for the travelling public.’
The TravelWatch chairman’s comments came after it was announced that a long-running challenge to the user agreement between the government and the Steam Packet had been withdrawn.
Seaside Shipping issued a Petition of Doleance in September 2007 to challenge the 1995 user agreement which effectively gives the Steam Packet sole use of the linkspan at Douglas harbour.
The shipping firm had planned to operate a roll-on, roll-off passenger and freight service between Douglas and the UK.
In 2009 it won an appeal over a high court decision to strike out the petition.
But the petition has now been withdrawn with Seaside Shipping paying towards the legal costs of the other parties. The terms of the settlement have not been disclosed.
Mr O’Friel said the legal challenge had given the Steam Packet an excuse not to plan ahead for the Ben’s replacement.
He said: ‘The Ben is currently mid-way through her life and she is starting now to develop problems of one sort or another. She is not as reliable as she was. A replacement would take two years to build and we are keen to see plans go ahead.’
The Steam Packet said it could not comment as this was part of the terms of the settlement.
In a statement, the Department of Infrastructure said it was pleased ‘this long-standing issue has been resolved and Seaside Shipping now feels able to withdraw the petition.’
Bernard Lavelle, sales director at London City airport and Luke Hayhoe, commercial general manager for BA City Flyer, will be guest speakers at TravelWatch’s public meeting at the Villa Marina tomorrow (Saturday, March 16) starting at 10am. Admission is free. All welcome.
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Weather for Isle of Man
Saturday 25 May 2013
Temperature: 7 C to 13 C
Wind Speed: 12 mph
Wind direction: South
Temperature: 10 C to 13 C
Wind Speed: 23 mph
Wind direction: South