The Chief Minister made a statement in Parliament this afternoon confirming that the Government has agreed to the grant of a new lease over the dockyard premises.
The new lease has been granted to Balaena Propco Limited, part of the Balaena Limited group of companies who have today announced their acquisition of Gibdock.
The Balena group are an offshore utilities business based out of the United Kingdom.
The ultimate beneficial owner of these companies is Simon Gillett a British, UK based entrepreneur.
Change of control protections are included in the new lease, which were not provided for in the old lease.
The new lease terms meet 3 of the GSLP/Liberal Government’s 2019 Manifesto Commitments. These commitments were to renegotiate the lease so that:
• the dockyard is operated in a manner that does not pose a health risk to the surrounding areas. This is now specifically provided for in the lease as a Key Performance Indicator;
• the Government is able to ensure that the shipyard is operated in full and proper compliance with the highest environmental standards. This now also provided for by the inclusion of another KPI requiring adherence to three defined ISO certificates and the application of relevant Gibraltar law on pollution and environmental protection. Additionally there is also a KPI commitment to best industry practice and the introduction of best available technology; and
• there is a transition to shore power (cold ironing). This will have to be provided under the lease obligations within three years.
The new lease follows months of collaborative discussions between Balaena and Government.
There are also various other Government objectives that have been hardwired into the new lease, representing a significant improvement over the previous lease.
In this respect, the lease includes environmental, operational and financial key performance indicators, some of which are entirely new and some of which have been carried over and updated from the previous lease, such as the minimum number of resident employees required.
Residents of the area will, in particular, be very pleased to hear that any noisy works will no longer be allowed outside of the hours of 8am to 8pm.
Under the current lease, works can continue throughout with no specific reference to noise being curtailed.
Works outside of those hours will now ONLY be permitted on the basis of an EXTENUATING works licence which will only be granted for works for Royal Navy vessels or for works which the Government accepts are urgent.
Noise will therefore become an unwelcome exception rather than a constant, unwelcome norm.
There are also various other lease terms that are also sensitive to Balaena's growth plans, with the Government keen to give Balaena the greatest prospect of success.
The Lease and the Lease Commercial Agreement have been laid in Parliament today by the Chief Minister.
The Government has also felt that it was important, at this challenging time in our political and economic development as a result of Brexit, to keep the dockyard operational as a shipyard and provide a continued element of diversification to Gibraltar’s economy at this time.
The Government considered this issue with the benefit of the advice of the Minister for Economic Development, whose relationship with the dockyard goes back at least half a century – the same half a century he has been an elected representative of the people of Gibraltar, some part of which he also spent as a trade union leader, spending many days and hours in the dockyard as a result.
'In this respect, we will all be happy to hear also that the Lease now beds in the continuation of an apprenticeship scheme going forward.'
As a result of these arrangements, the Government has said it will immediately start to work closely with Balaena to explore the feasibility of constructing an access lane through the shipyard that would connect Queensway Road and Rosia Road.
Further details of this will be announced as soon as possible.
Minister for the Environment, the Hon John Cortes, commented: "The dockyard has been in need of an update to its lease to align with current requirements. Today we have delivered one that is in sync with Gibraltar's modern day environmental obligations. The terms of the new lease that have been negotiated are highly positive for Gibraltar. As the Government, we have been ready to help out and play our part. I am excited to see what the future bring for Gibdock and its new owners."
The Chief Minister, the Hon Fabian Picardo MP, commented: "I take this opportunity to congratulate the new owners on their acquisition of Gibdock. I welcome them to Gibraltar and I wish them great success in their operations. Their commercial success as a company will be our economic success as a nation. This is good news for Gibraltar. The dockyard represents a key part of Gibraltar's real estate.I am encouraged to see the drive and energy shown by the new owners who seek to grow the Gibdock business from strength to strength whilst reducing the negative impact that the previous operations have had had on the surrounding area. I consider the acquisition to be more than simply an acquisition of Gibdock; this as an investment in Gibdock AND in Gibraltar. Yet another vote of confidence in our economy at a sensitive time in our history. The conclusion of this deal at this time, with other competing priorities, is also proof of the Government's relentless desire to continue to grow Gibraltar's economy and our success in attracting quality investment."