Further wind farm construction in the Irish Sea could threaten the future of the Liverpool ferry route, Steam Packet boss Mark Woodward has warned.
And he says TT services could also come under threat.
The comments come following Centrica’s announcement it plans to develop wind farms which would cross both the island’s Heysham and Liverpool routes.
Company chief executive Mr Woodward said Centrica had previously outlined what they called a ‘worst case’ scenario based on fast craft crossing times of three extra minutes on the Heysham route and seven on the Liverpool sailing. This would increase to 15 minutes on a ferry.
‘We strongly objected on behalf of the Isle of Man, pointing out that an extra 15 minutes would make it physically impossible to operate winter Ben-my-Chree Birkenhead services, while twice daily Liverpool services could also be impossible in certain situations,’ said Mr Woodward.
‘It is disappointing that, despite numerous meetings, Centrica have to date chosen to ignore the island’s route requirements.’
Mr Woodward said the Steam Packet was willing to work with Centrica but that developing across direct shipping routes was ‘unworkable’. ‘Material deviations are unacceptable and we see no reason why Centrica cannot develop around these long established direct shipping lanes – something that was originally promised by Centrica some 18 months ago,’ he said.
Mr Woodward said although the additional crossing times may not sound significant, they would lead to ‘very serious and economic practical consequences’ and would in some circumstances threaten the long-term viability of Liverpool services.
‘Our own estimate is that slower journey times could cause the loss of as much as 15 per cent of TT fast craft capacity due to the inability to maximise the number of sailings,’ he said. ‘An extra 15 minutes on the Ben-my-Chree passage time would not allow us to offer winter weekend returns to Liverpool without compromising the vital overnight freight service.’
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding