The Isle of Man Government’s Treasury hopes that it doesn’t have to ‘exercise its powers’ in relation to lease negotiations for the new Liverpool Ferry Terminal.

This is the view of Treasury Minister Dr Alex Allinson, who confirmed during Tuesday’s Tynwald sitting that the Steam Packet Company (IoMSPC) and the Department of Infrastructure (DoI) remained locked in negotiations.

The Liverpool Ferry Terminal land is owned by the Peel Group, which in turn is owned by island-based billionaire businessman John Whittaker.

Although the Peel Group retains ownership of the land, the site has been bought by the Isle of Man Government (for £3.5 million) on a long-term leasehold for a term of just over 230 years.

This means that the IoMSPC will be required to pay rent to Government (the DoI) in order to operate their business at the terminal, which is still in the process of being specified and agreed.

The IoMSPC currently pays £737,000 per year to the Peel Group for the use of the Pier Head Ferry Terminal, which is only 800 metres away from the new terminal.

Talking about the ongoing lease negotiations during Tuesday’s Tynwald sitting, Dr Allinson said: ‘These are commercial negotiations between the two bodies, and a final figure has not yet been agreed.

‘Treasury are aware that there have been challenges, as one would expect in a commercial negotiation, and are working with both parties to help reach a mutually acceptable conclusion.

‘There may be a further role for Treasury to play if an agreement cannot be reached on the rental considerations, but this will be dealt with if or when requested.’

When asked how long these negotiations had been going on for, Dr Allinson said: ‘Head of terms were first prepared on January 17, 2017, and a separate heads of terms were also prepared on the October 28, 2019.

‘However, these have now fallen away and there’s been a lot of development since then in terms of the size, scope and timing of the opening of the new terminal.’

Dr Allinson also confirmed that the operational management of the new terminal has now changed hands to ‘Global Ports Limited’, who specialise in cruise operations - the ‘long-term aim’ of the new facility.

The government recently confirmed that the first sailing to the new ferry terminal in Liverpool will take place after the TT fortnight.

Berthing trials at the terminal have been taking place since late March, and will continue to be held over the coming weeks.

The trials have been described as a ‘mandatory safety procedure’ which enables captains to become accustomed to the new berth at ‘varying states of tide, river and weather conditions’.

A spokesperson for the government said: ‘The decision has been taken to ensure a smooth transition to the new facility and avoid the Isle of Man’s busiest and most critical time of year for the tourism industry.’