Tynwald voted overwhelmingly for a strategy on offshore energy production that could see wind farms developed in Manx territorial waters.
The Council of Ministers’ report suggests that leasing the seabed could earn government £5m a year from each wind farm – and create at least 60 jobs.
Environment Minister Phil Gawne told Tynwald there is significant potential to provide sites for cost effective offshore wind farms supplying renewable energy to the UK.
Infrastructure Minister Laurence Skelly said: ‘This is where green and economic policy comes together.’
Speaker Steve Rodan described the motion calling for the court to support the development of offshore wind, marine renewables and hydrocarbon energy sources in Manx territorial waters as ‘timely’. ‘This is a very exciting document to my mind, a very positive strategy for the Isle of Man,’ he said.
Mr Rodan said he was convinced potential downsides could be overcome and there was clear need to protect shipping lanes and ferry routes. He said there was also a need to take into account the visual impact of offshore wind farms which could damage the scenery on which much of the tourism industry depends.
CoMin proposes to progress plans to develop up to a maximum of 2GW from offshore wind and 200MW from marine renewable power for export to the UK.
An expression of interest notice was issued in January 2014 seeking potential developers for offshore wind and tidal projects in Manx territorial seas.
The government is also intending to issue prospecting licenses for hydrocarbon extraction. Initial studies indicate there’s a gas reserve of more than 100 billion cubic feet.
CoMin’s report ruled out ‘fracking’ for shale gas, saying it is not currently economically viable and environmental issues need to resolved in the UK. But Alex Downie MLC said he didn’t think the report went far enough. ‘Please don’t discount fracking,’ he said.