Hooper: Why I’ve Postponed Marina Motion

Lib Vannin leader Lawrie Hooper says assurances from the DoI Minister led to him withdrawing his Tynwald motion last week.

However the Health Minister says if assurances he has received don’t come to fruition, he will come back to Tynwald with it again.

Ramsey Marina artist’s impression

Last Tuesday Mr Hooper was expected to move a motion that would put an end to the ongoing negotiations for a lease or a heads of terms with Ramsey Marina Limited. The plans for a marina in the northern town have proven controversial since they were first mooted with many residents opposing them.

Speaking to Gef, Mr Hooper said: ‘What I said in my post online is that, you know how Tynwald works, not everything gets done on the floor and sometimes taking things to the floor of Tynwald can be a little bit of a risk if you don’t quite know [how it will go]. I didn’t speak to Council [of Ministers] ahead of this, it’s a personal thing for my constituents, it’s not a CoMin matter this one, so when CoMin discussed it I left the room, so I don’t know what they discussed, but what I do is that it doesn’t always go the way you want it to go.

‘So you could go into Tynwald thinking I can get a result on this and it go sideways. I don’t think in this case there was, I think I had a lot of support from members around the table, so I was pretty confident going into the debate that we’d get what we want out this. But alongside putting it down on the order paper, which I did pretty much as soon as I was elected, I also had been talking to the DoI and DEFA ministers. My aim with the motion wasn’t to change the law, it’s pretty good in this space around legal protections for nature reserves, I wasn’t looking to change planning policy, again that’s pretty good in terms of protecting the nature reserves that we’ve got, so I didn’t think we needed to do those things.

‘But one thing that there is going on, alongside the planning element, is that the DoI were negotiating a lease for the seafront to Ramsey Marina Ltd and so the aim of the motion was to convince the DoI to stop that process until at least the planning process is finished. Because the view I’ve expressed since day on to my constituents is the planning process will stop this happening. There are so many planning policies and strategic policies that exist to, say, protect the environment for its own sake and don’t develop anything that will damage nature reserves so it’s pretty strong language in terms of that.’

Area Plan

While Ramsey Marina Ltd has not actually submitted a planning application for the site, the beach area has been put forward for the area plan for the north and west as a proposed zoning site for development. As a result of this, the Cabinet Office is legally required to consult on the draft plan before publishing what they think about the site. Mr Hooper said he believes that the Cabinet Office will say that the area is not suitable for development but that not matter what the result is, it is not something that can be stopped by Tynwald as it is a legal process.

He added: ‘The one thing we can do is go to the DoI and tell them to just stop negotiating a lease. It’s been three years, it’s clear the people of Ramsey don’t want you to do this, it’s clear that from a planning perspective it’s not going anywhere, so it’s clear DoI that you need to pause this process at least and not revisit it, would be my view.

‘I would understand if the DoI came back and said “well if it gets through planning then we’ll think about”. I can understand that position, it’s not the position that I would like to see, I would like to see them just say no, we wouldn’t like to do this, we’re not going to negotiate the lease, we’re not doing it full stop.’

Mr Hooper said that in that instance, his motion was a ‘backstop’ for if his talks with ministers as the MHK for Ramsey didn’t succeed. He said that rather than ‘having it out on the floor’, he has got DoI Minister Tim Crookall to agree to pause things while he gets some time to consider where negotiations have got to and view the plan as a whole. And as a result of this he didn’t need to bring his motion to Tynwald at this time, but it that it may come back in the future.

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