Disruption to ferry routes aired at windfarm watchdog meeting

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THE impact on proposed offshore wind farms on lifeline ferry and shipping services will be discussed at the next public meeting of passenger watchdog TravelWatch Isle of Man.

Guest speaker at the public meeting at the Villa Marina in Douglas on Saturday (November 10) will be director of harbours Captain Michael Brew.

Captain Brew believes proposals for an Irish Sea windfarm extension have failed to reflect the potential impact on the Isle of Man,

Commenting on a public consultation into energy company DONG Energy’s proposals for enlarging the existing Walney wind farm off the coast of Cumbria, Mr Brew said restriction of bad weather routes could lead to a big risk of longer diversions and a greater risk of sailings being cancelled.

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.

TravelWatch says it is not taking a position on the merits of wind farms - only their impact on shipping services.

It says action needs to be taken now to safeguard our shipping lanes for the future.

As a contribution to helping people understand the issues and find information easily, TravelWatch has now set up a special section of its website to provide easy access to wind farm information with links to the main developers and interested parties. This can be accessed directly on www.travelwatch-isleofman.org/windfarms

In his ‘Agenda for Change’ statement to October Tynwald, Chief Minister Allan Bell said the Steam Packet User Agreement would be reviewed by March 2014, and the Open Skies policy would be reviewed by June 2013.

These are both areas in which TravelWatch is involved on an on-going basis and an update will be provided during Saturday’s public meeting.

Passenger rights for those travelling by sea, to and from EU ports, are being introduced on December 18. As all our ferry routes are to EU ports these will apply to Manx services and cover provisions for people with disabilities and reduced mobility.

They also cover the provision of information and assistance to all passengers in the event of delayed or cancelled journeys.

Everyone is welcome to attend the public meeting which starts at 10am, with doors open at 9.30am. Admission is free but contributions towards the cost of mid-morning light refreshments are welcomed. Plenty of time is allowed for informal discussion.

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