Stena to take council to court over rates hike

Ferry giants Stena Line are taking Dumfries and Galloway Council to court over a £1.25 million rates bill levied on its Irish Sea crossing base at Loch Ryan Port in Cairnryan.

Stena Line claim that the local authority has “doubled” its rates demand since it moved out of the Stranraer waterfront in 2011, putting future investment in the new facility in jepordy.

A spokesperson for the ferry company said: “Stena Line has been involved in protracted discussions with Dumfries and Galloway Council officials in relation to the rates assessment of its Loch Ryan Port and terminal facility at Cairnryan.  Stena Line made a significant investment (in excess of £80m) when it opened its new state-of-the art ferry port and terminal at Cairnryan in 2011 to replace its former Stranraer facility. Despite this investment, designed to provide South West Scotland with a modern freight and tourism gateway, the Council has assessed Stena Line for its non-domestic rates for the new port at a rate effectively double that of its former facility at £1.25m, which is almost three times that of P&O’s £445,000 rate valuation for a similar sized facility. Stena Line is concerned that this significant additional running cost may impact upon future investment at Loch Ryan Port. Stena Line has received support from political representatives on this issue and has engaged Senior Counsel in an appeal against the assessment, which it maintains is without any proper legal basis, at the Lands Tribunal for Scotland. A hearing is scheduled for July 2016.”

A Dumfries and Galloway Council spokesman commented: “Dumfries and Galloway Council do not have any involvement in the level of rates paid by Stena to the Scottish Government on their Loch Ryan port. The rateable value of the property, which dictates the rates to be paid, is the responsibility of the assessor. The assessor is an independent official appointed under statute and he carries out his duties under the direction of the Valuation Acts and is answerable to the courts.”