The government could not interfere with the Steam Packet’s decision to buy a new, larger ship – although that does mean Manx taxpayers will have to pay more for the Liverpool ferry terminal.
Infrastructure Minister Tim Baker told the House of Keys last month that a scour protection program was needed for the quay wall at Prince’s Half-Tide.
He said this would entail a “substantial” additional cost, but that his department had a contractual obligation to protect the assets of the owner of the Port of Peel.
And the cost would be even higher due to the Steam Packet’s decision to buy the Manxman, whose bow thrusters will put more pressure on the dock wall than the Ben-my-Chree.
In the Keys this week, Onchan MHK Julie Edge said: ‘Obviously the Steam Packet board has gone out and bought a new ship and the people of the Isle of Man now have to contribute additional funds. to ensure that the Half-Tide Wharf is satisfactory to accept this vessel.
“I am quite shocked that there was no discussion about this.
“ My big concern is that the contract in place with The Peel Group clearly had implications that perhaps no one here was aware of at the time of the vote for the Half-Tide Pier. ”
Mr Baker replied: ‘At the time it acquired the land, the department had a clear contractual obligation to enter into an appropriate program to protect the quay wall from the consequences of the scouring of vessels using it. Nothing has changed in this regard, apart from the development of the detailed design.
Lawrie Hooper (LibVan, Ramsey) asked if the Steam Packet had been made aware of the additional costs when they chose to acquire the Manxman and if the Ministry was aware of the proposed vessel.
Mr Baker said the detailed design of the ship was entirely up to the Steam Packet. “ The department was not in a position to interfere with the Steam Packet Company as decisions to purchase ships from an independent body. ”
Ms Edge asked if the Manxman would cause additional costs to the Heysham taxpayer as well.
Mr Baker said there was no final cost for the scour protection program at Liverpool, as the detailed design was still being worked out.
The £ 78million Manxman, due to enter service in 2023, is 8 meters taller than the Ben-my-Chree, has 495m2 of additional cargo and vehicle space, and will have a capacity of 949 passengers compared to the Ben-my-Chree 630.