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MHK’s surprise and concern over wind farm plan

Plans for a wind farm development in Jurby go on public display in the village’s parish hall on Saturday.

But the constituency’s MHK Alfred Cannan has voiced concerns about Prowind’s plans which he fears could encourage the spread of turbines along the Manx coast from Ayre down to Rushen – and he has called a public meeting on the issue next week.

As Isle of Man Newspapers revealed this week Prowind (UK) wants to build a wind farm at Jurby airfield with five turbines, each with a blade diameter of 50m and a height of 150m to the tip.

The wind farm would subsidise the operating costs of a 25,000 sq ft manufacturing base to be constructed on the industrial estate for sister company Xzeres, which designs, manufactures and markets small wind-powered turbines.

It is expected the project will create 108 to 120 jobs – but that could double if split shifts are introduced.

Mr Cannan said: ‘The first details I received of this were from the Examiner’s front page story.

‘It now emerges the Department of Economic Development has been engaged with Prowind for some months and yet both they and the company have not bothered to seek the views of the Commissioners or the area’s political representative until this late stage.

‘Clearly this is a matter of public concern for all island residents. If permission is given, we are likely to see an outward spread of these turbines through Ayre, Bride, Ballaugh, Michael and then down the western coastline to Rushen.

‘It appears to me the DED along with the Department of Infrastructure have taken a unilateral policy decision that onshore wind turbines are acceptable without any proper policy debate. I will be asking the Chief Minister and the Minister when these policy decisions were made in the House of Keys next week.

‘I hope to hear the full views of the public next Tuesday evening in Jurby Parish Hall and I will be inviting the Minister for Economic Development and the Minister for Infrastructure to attend.

Prowind will display its plans at Jurby parish hall on Saturday from 10am to 4pm. Mr Cannan has called his public meeting at the same venue on Tuesday at 7.30pm.

Prowind’s Keith Brooks said: ‘The Isle of Man’s reputation as a world leader in clean tech made it our first choice and Tynwald have been massively supportive. As the site is DOI land, it will be deferred to a planning inspector.

‘While it would make business sense to create the unit in the UK we genuinely want to create local benefits and so we will use some on the income from the turbines to subsidise the increased cost of having a unit there.’