A new Strategic Sea Services Agreement between the Government and the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company was signed by Ray Harmer MHK, Minister for Infrastructure, and Robert Quayle, Chairman of the company, last week (Friday 31 May).
The historic agreement has taken over six years to negotiate and sets the direction of the Steam Packet for the next 25 years. The agreement includes a wide range of requirements to ensure that the Island has the sea services it needs for its long-term economic and social wellbeing.
In return for almost exclusive use of the Island’s linkspans, the company is required to invest in new vessels and provide regular services throughout the year. They will also be required to support the community, offer apprenticeships and take action to reduce carbon emissions.
Minister Harmer said:
'Reaching this agreement has been a huge undertaking and I would like to thank everyone that has helped pull together this historic arrangement. This Government was determined to protect the Island’s strategic sea services and took clear and decisive action to deliver this. The agreement reinforces the role we expect the Steam Packet to play in our community and gives certainty to allow the company to make investments to improve services in the future. We look forward to working with the company to protect our strategic sea services for the next 25 years.'
Mark Woodward, Chief Executive of the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company, said:
'The new Sea Services Agreement is a logical and timely replacement of the existing User Agreement. It creates a strong long-term foundation from which to deliver continued investment that meets the needs of the Island’s residents, businesses and visitors.
'As a company which has an integral role in the Manx community, our interests are fully vested in what is best for the Isle of Man and I firmly believe this agreement demonstrates confidence in the future and will allow us to further implement investment plans. It will not only stabilise the future of sea services for the Island and its people but deliver significant improvement in vessels and infrastructure in the years to come.'
The Government is the sole shareholder of the Steam Packet after Tynwald agreed to the Government purchasing the company in May last year. The full Sea Services Agreement will be available online in the next few weeks.