The island’s link is being put at risk by the number of wind farms in the Irish Sea, Steam Packet chief executive Mark Woodward believes.
He said that he had a ‘real concern’ about the impact of a proposed wind farm development between Anglesey and the Isle of Man – on a site which cuts through both the Heysham and Liverpool routes.
Energy giant Centrica was awarded development rights for the Irish Sea Zone last year, a 2,200 sq km zone, which is adjacent to Manx territorial waters.
Mr Woodward said: ‘Our view is the island’s lifeline link is being put at risk by the proliferation of wind farms in the Irish Sea potentially.’
He warned passengers that as it would be impossible to sail through the wind farm zone, they faced longer crossing times to Liverpool – an extra 15 to 25 minutes per crossing – as the ferry would have to take a longer route.
The Steam Packet would be forced to make more cancellations in bad weather as ships would be unable to take a more southerly route to take shelter from the North Wales coast, he said.
And when ferries did make the crossing in rough conditions it would be more uncomfortable for passengers.
If Centrica’s plans go ahead at the same time as a proposed extension to the Walney wind farm, off the Barrow coast, Mr Woodward said Steam Packet ships would be forced through a gap, approximately three nautical miles wide at its widest point.
He believes that the safety of crew and passengers could be put at risk by a much higher level of sea traffic using this small area – as other Irish Sea operators would have to sail north, through the gap, to sail around the island.
‘This is at the same time as coastguards are being reduced by the UK Government,’ he said.
Mr Woodward said the Steam Packet was working with other Irish Sea operators to get its voice heard but added: ‘The different views of operators have been completely, if not largely, ignored by the interests of energy companies which have been in a head-long rush to get energy targets in line with the EU requirements in time.’
The £8 billion investment could see about 1,000 turbines being built, with the capacity to generate 4.2 gigawatts.
Construction could begin as early as 2016 if planning approval is given.
The Department of Economic Development has said that as the island would be the nearest landfall to the northern area of the Centrica scheme, it could provide enormous employment opportunities.
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