Cruise ships could be able to establish cruises to and from Liverpool's new purpose-built terminal depending on the outcome of government consultation.
The city’s cruise terminal, which opened in 2007 with the help of almost £18 million in grants from the North West Development Agency and the European Regional Development Fund, was seen as being potentially unfair competition for rival ports.
As a result operations at the terminal were restricted to cruises calling at the city as part of longer trips and it does not allow for voyages to start and end in the city.
Liverpool City Council last month put forward proposals for a partial repayment of the public subsidy in return for a lifting of the restrictions.
The proposals put forward by the city council include a repayment of £5.3 million spread evenly over 15 years. Consultation of port operators and other interested parties will now take place until September 15.
A final decision on whether to approve the council's application is expected early in the new parliamentary year. Shipping minister Mike Penning said: "Liverpool has a rich maritime heritage spanning many centuries, and I am keen to see that continue.
“However, I have been clear throughout this process that I am equally committed to ensuring fair competition across all UK ports. That is why I am pleased that Liverpool City Council has come forward with proposals which recognise this.
"However it is also important to hear the views of other interested parties, which is why I am launching a 10-week consultation. Once this period is over, I will consider carefully any comments I have received before making a final decision."
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