Directors of energy firm Celtic Array met with government ministers and senior officers to discuss concerns over the impact of wind farm development on vital shipping lanes.
Laura Jeffs, head of development for Centrica Renewable energy, told the Manx Independent that the concerns would be taken into account in any future planning application.
She said plans for the North East zone – where a wind farm development would have most impact on Steam Packet routes – were still a ‘long way down the line’.
But she said the Celtic Array, a joint venture between Centrica and Dong Energy, wanted to engage with the government and island residents every step of the way.
She said: ‘Development of the NE Zones is some way down the line. Our focus is on Rhiannon, our southern-most project which impacts more on the people of Anglesey.
‘The plan is to develop some proposals to reach a solution for everybody but it is too early say what they will be. Everyone recognises the challenge for shipping. We don’t have any answers yet.’
The NE zone borders Manx territorial waters and Ms Jeffs said one option to reduce disruption to ferry routes that could be considered was shifting the location of the proposed wind farm so that part was in Manx waters.
She said the Steam Packet’s concerns about increased delays, cancellations and journey times played a large part in Celtic Array’s decision to delay plans to develop the NE zone – although that decision wasn’t entirely due to that, she added.
Isle of Man Newspapers’s Don’t Cut us Off campaign against over-intensive wind farm development resulted in 1,265 petition forms being signed. These will be included in Celtic Array’s consultation report on the Rhiannon project.
Ms Jeffs said the concerns themselves had not come as a shock. ‘We have to take it on board. The new planning system has to be able to demonstrate that you’ve taken concerns into account,’ she said.
A stage two consultation on Rhiannon will begin at the end of this year. A planning application is expected to be submitted in the middle of next year but a decision wouldn’t be expected until the end of 2015 at the earliest.
Ms Jeffs said Celtic Array discussed the economic benefits that a wind farm development could have on the Manx economy when they met government leaders on Monday.
These could include basing operational and maintenance facilities here. But Ms Jeffs stressed no promises had been made.
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