Isle of Man launches consultation on marine environment

Opportunity to develop within Manx territorial waters

The Isle of Man government is consulting on the Manx Marine Environmental Assessment (MMEA). Published on 1 October, the report is of relevance to those with an interest in the island's marine environment, including potential offshore wind developers.

"It's a first stage in the development of a marine plan for potentially developing wind and other renewable energy resources," Ken Milne, senior manager for energy policy with the island's government, told Windpower Offshore.

Some 2-3GW of offshore wind capacity is slated for Manx waters by 2020. "An opportunity exists to develop joint projects in an 'All Islands Approach'," states the MMEA. It also notes that "it would be technically and economically beneficial for [developers active in UK waters] to extend into Isle of Man waters in order to maximise the value of their offshore assets".

The UK's Round 3 Irish Sea offshore wind development zone extends to the Isle of Man's 12 nautical miles (22km) territorial sea limit and could host more than 4GW of capacity. The zone's developers, Centrica and DONG Energy, submitted an environmental impact assessment scoping report in July for development of an initial 2.2GW project within the zone, known as Rhiannon. But the Rhiannon project is planned for the zone's south-east corner, furthest from the Isle of Man.

The MMEA forms part of the wider Isle of Man Marine Plan, a cross-government initiative aimed at managing the sustainable development of Manx territorial waters. It is not a policy document, but a statement of facts and a compilation of technical information. "The report will aid the identification of the best sites for development," added Milne.

Work on the MMEA started in September 2011, with the aim of providing baseline evidence to guide and support future development decisions. This has now been made publically accessible through the report.

The consultation runs until 16 November. A final report may then be issued.

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