Questions will be raised in Tynwald next month over government plans for renewable energy schemes in the Isle of Man.
A public meeting will be held at Ballaugh parish hall on Tuesday (September 28) into plans by Ocean Electric Power to build an on-shore wind farm on the coast between Jurby and Ballaugh.
The £25 million – £30 million scheme could see between eight and 10 turbines being installed, producing 12 per cent of the Island’s electricity – and helping the Manx Government meets its Tynwald commitment to have 15 per cent of electricity generated by renewable sources by the year 2015.
The Council of Ministers has invited expressions of interest from companies wishing to develop, finance, build and operate a 20 MW wind farm in the Isle of Man.
But Michael MHK David Cannan, who has organised the public meeting in Ballaugh after meeting with Ocean Electric’s chief executive Chris Bale, will ask Tywald next month why expressions of interest have not been invited in a tidal or wave power scheme.
He is also looking at tabling a motion to the October or November sitting calling for the court not to support wind farms as a way of meeting the 15 per cent energy target – and instead adopt of policy of using tidal turbines or wave hub power.
Mr Bale said CoMin’s invitation of expressions of interest had been a ‘helpful development’ but had not triggered Ocean Electric’s interest in the Island.
He said: ‘We’ve been looking at the possibility of renewable energy in the Isle of Man for a while now. I first visited the Island in December 2008.’
Mr Bale said he shared Mr Cannan’s views that there was a lot of potential in tidal power around the Island but it had ‘quickly become apparent’ that this would be a long term goal while wind power could be achieved in the nearer term.
‘The issue is about the maturity of the technology,’ he said.
Mr Bale said that to produce 20 MW of power, eight to 10 turbines would be required. Having done some work to identify suitable sites, Ocean Electric had concluded the coastline between Jurby and Ballaugh was the ‘optimum location’ because of a combination of factors, he said.
The Ocean Electric boss said that while wind power in the UK had generally been a more expensive way of producing electricity than from fossil fuel, in the Isle of Man this may not be the case.
He said the company’s working assumption was that it could fund all the investment needed to develop and construct the project which he estimated would cost between £25m-30m.
Mr Bale added: ‘I’m very much looking forward to meeting with local residents. We initiated the contact with David Cannan and I’m very grateful to him for creating this opportunity. I plan to share as much information as I can.’
He said research in the UK suggested most people were in favour of renewable energy but he recognised there would always be section of the community who would be uncomfortable about its impact.
Mr Cannan said: ‘The magnificent vista looking south along the coast from Jurby church will be ruined by these huge turbines. The response in the community has been overwhelmingly hostile.’
Tuesday’s meeting at Ballaugh parish hall starts at 7.30pm. It will be restricted to residents of Michael constituency.