Proposals for an Irish Sea windfarm extension have failed to reflect the potential impact on the Isle of Man, according the the government’s Director of Harbours.
Captain Michael Brew was commenting on a public consultation on Wednesday at the Villa Marina where energy company DONG Energy put forward its proposals for enlarging the existing Walney wind farm off the coast of Cumbria.
Captain Brew echoed widely-expressed fears that the proposals could hit ferry travel. Pressure group Travelwatch has already alerted the public to the potential for increased journey times and higher fares if the ferries have to detour.
‘There is a big risk of greater diversions and in the worst case a greater risk of sailings being cancelled because bad weather routes are restricted by the position of a wind farm,’ Captain Brew said.
He added the concern was not so much the Walney extension, which did not impinge on the standard ferry route but the combined effect of that and the other proposals in the Irish Sea.
A proposal by Centrica and DONG Energy for a further wind farm north of Anglesey would cut across existing ferry routes forcing shipping into a 3.8 nautical mile channel between that and the Walney extension.
Dick Clague of Travelwatch said this was acceptable in good sailing conditions but inadequate in poor weather.
Travelwatch chairman Brendan O’Friel said: ‘We do welcome the fact that the developers came here and did a presentation and encouraged people to talk to them. That is excellent. But the detail is in some ways disappointing.’
He said it was confusing for the public that the plans on display did not include all existing and proposed wind farms.
‘We need an assessment of all of these plans which need to be viewed together,’ he said.
The proposed development will need the go-ahead from the UK planning authority.
Agriculture Minister Phil Gawne said the government’s position would be made clear to UK plannng authorities and developers.
He did not rule out wind farms within Manx waters saying if they were going to be sited within visual range anyway, the island might as well generate some revenue from them.
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