Tuesday 04 December 2012
The Jersey and Guernsey authorities are proposing to extend Condor Ferries' operating permit for car and passenger ferry services for five years from January 2014
Jersey's Economic Development Minister and the Chairman of Guernsey's External Transport Group have agreed a draft update of the Joint Channel Island Sea Transport Policy Statement, which has operated since 2008.
The updated policy confirms the need for 'reliable, robust and reasonably priced passenger car ferry services' and allows for Jersey to issue a new ferry permit to Condor from 1 January 2014. Guernsey's detailed requirements will be specified in an updated Memorandum of Understanding.
Whilst the new permit will not be exclusive, the policy will continue to expect an application by an alternative operator to meet at least the same standard of service as that provided by Condor Ferries. The proposed agreement also includes provision for a formal review of the service that will be completed within three years.
The company's existing permit to operate car and passenger ferry services expires on 31 December 2013.
Guernsey's External Transport Group Chairman, Deputy Paul Luxon said:
"The Islands have had a strong relationship with Condor Ferries spanning several decades. We are therefore very happy to announce the agreement for services through to the end of 2018 which will provide medium term certainty both for the Islands and the company".
"Our two Island governments now have the opportunity to work together to provide a coordinated and effective approach to sea transport. We accept that no long-term solution is currently available, but between 2013 and 2018 our governments will continue to develop a coordinated and effective approach to sea transport that will lead to a fully integrated long term strategy and will work with Condor during this period to ensure that the services provided meet the Islands' needs."
Jersey's Economic Development Minister, Senator Alan Maclean, said:
"We would like to put in place new, long-term arrangements which can provide modern, reliable ships for the next ten or fifteen years. We cannot achieve this by the time the current permit expires because new international regulations on sulphur emissions come into effect in 2015.
"These new regulations will require extensive engine modifications to traditional freight ships and many of the high speed craft used by ferry companies have been running for fifteen years or more and have limited commercial life left. There are many new options for ship design, including vessels driven by liquid petroleum gas (LPG), but the best option is not yet clear.
"This uncertainty makes it difficult to reach a long-term agreement, so we have taken external advice jointly with Guernsey on the condition and reliability of the high speed fleet. Its ability to last through the period covered by the proposed permit, subject to adequate investment in maintenance, has been confirmed. Both I and the Chairman of Guernsey's External Transport Group are now confident that, in the short to medium term, there is an effective strategy in place for Condor Ferries."
Jersey has now reached agreement with Guernsey and the UK over the implementation of the EU Sea Passenger Rights Regulation when it comes into force on 18 December 2012. This means passengers will have a statutory right to compensation and refunds when vessels are delayed for technical or service reasons.
Condor will operate the Regulation's compensation and refund standards on inter-Island routes as well as on voyages that start and finish in the EU. This important enhancement to customer protection has been referenced in the revised Policy Statement.