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25th May 2022, 16:13

Government agrees the grant of a new lease over the dockyard premises

Published by GBC News

The Government has awarded a new 35-year lease for the dockyard to Balaena Propco Limited, which has announced its acquisition of Gibdock.

The Balaena Group is an offshore utilities business based out of the UK, whose beneficial owner is British entrepreneur Simon Gillet.

Under the new lease, noisy works will only be permitted between the hours of 8am and 8pm, and there is also a commitment towards the highest environmental standards.

The Government intends to begin work immediately on the feasibility of constructing an access lane through the shipyard, connecting Queensway with Rosia Road.

The Lease and Lease Commercial Agreement were laid down in Parliament by the Chief Minister.

The Chief Minister made a statement in Parliament.

Gibraltar's historic dockyard once welcomed some of the Royal Navy's most prestigious ships. Originally built in the 1800s to serve the navy's surface fleet, it passed into private hands in 1984 amid cuts by the Ministry of Defence.

From then onwards, it became a commercial ship repair yard, coming under the control of the newly named Gibdock in 2009.

Now, the baton has been passed to Balaena Propco Limited, owned by British entrepreneur Simon Gillet, who has acquired the business with a 35 year lease.

However, the new lease has come with new conditions.

These include three key commitments:

-That the dockyard is operated in a manner that does not pose a health risk to the surrounding areas.

-That the highest environmental standards are complied using the best available technology.

- That there is a transition to shore power known as cold ironing.

Other improvements to the old lease have been included, such as a minimum number of resident employees required. No noisy works will be allowed outside the hours of 8am to 8pm unless there is a special works licence granted.

The Government says it is important in these challenging times in our political and economic development as a result of Brexit, to keep the dockyard operational as a shipyard, and to provide a continued element of diversification to Gibraltar's economy.

An apprenticeship scheme will continue.

A new access lane through the shipyard, connecting Queensway Road to Rosia Road, will now be explored, with further details to be announced as soon as possible.

Minister for the Environment, John Cortes, described the new lease as a 'highly positive' move for Gibraltar.

For his part, the Chief Minister welcomed the new owners to the Rock. Fabian Picardo said Balaena's success will be Gibraltar's economic success as a nation.

He hailed the deal as yet another vote of confidence at a sensitive time in our history.