The government has yet to sign a lease agreement with the Steam Packet over the use of the new ferry terminal in Liverpool.

Questions about the lease were asked in Tynwald this week by Central Douglas MHK Chris Thomas.

Treasury Minister Dr Alex Allinson replied: ‘As of yet the lease agreement between the Department for Infrastructure and the Steam Packet Company has not been finalised.

‘I have been informed that lease negotiations are continuing.

‘The exact date of the new lease and the technical details are not yet confirmed, and will depend upon the conclusion of these negotiations.

‘Treasury are aware that there have been challenges as one would expect to any commercial negotiation but understand that the majority of issues are now considered to be agreed.’

Dr Allinson insisted the commercial negotiations were not holding up the completion of the ferry terminal.

In a supplementary question, Mr Thomas asked: ‘Is it still the Minister's expectation that the new terminal will be available for use during the winter and weekend sailings will take place throughout the winter next year, despite the fact that the negotiations are still an ongoing?

‘Can the Minister advise on what basis freight can be transported from Liverpool and into Liverpool normally and in an emergency when Heysham is unavailable?

‘Because that's what the public really wants to know. That's what really matters to people.’

The Treasury Minister replied: ‘Some of the restrictions on freight being taken into the Liverpool ferry terminal are due to the planning restrictions imposed at the time of the initial application. And those obviously will be worked around by the Steam Packet Company.

‘I'm glad that the DoI is working very closely with the Steam Packet Company, in terms of the berthing trials for the Manannan and making sure that the ferry terminal is operational as soon as practicable.’