THE future of the Steam Packet user agreement, concerns over the impact of wind turbines in the Irish Sea, and kerbside recycling were just some of the issues covered at the latest Tynwald standing committee meeting established to scrutinise the work of departments.
Last week it was the turn of Infrastructure Minister David Cretney MHK and the department’s chief executive Ian Thompson to face questioning by the Environment and Infrastructure Policy Review Committee.
Mr Thompson said that the government’s concerns had recently been raised about the potential economic impact on the island’s economy from a proliferation of wind farms in the Irish Sea.
He said officers told the Maritime Coastal Agency (MCA) that the individual wind farm plans should not be viewed in isolation.
MCA representatives are due to visit the island next month to give three presentations on the subject.
Mr Thompson said that concerns about the turbines interfering with Ronaldsway airport’s radar had also been raised.
‘There’s a real risk of them creeping into radar,’ he said.
When asked by committee member Zac Hall (Onchan MHK) for their view on allowing competition for the use of the linkspan at Douglas harbour, Mr Thompson said: ‘That’s a difficult area.
‘We don’t believe there’s a queue of shipping companies waiting to bring their vessels to Douglas.
‘Most don’t run vessels that could service Douglas harbour.’
Mr Cretney said this was highlighted when the Steam Packet’s Ben-my-Chree was out of action last year while repairs were made to its damaged bow thruster.
He said it was ‘impossible’ to bring in an alternative vessel to cover services because they were too big.
Meanwhile the committee’s chairman, Dudley Butt MLC, called for the minister to make an undertaking that he would meet Onchan Commissioners to try and encourage them back into the kerbside recycling scheme.
The scheme was established in 2008 by the former Department of Local Government and the Environment, covering Douglas, Braddan and Onchan.
Mr Butt, who was member of DLGE with responsibility for waste management at the time of the scheme’s launch, said it was a ‘great shame’ Onchan withdrew from the scheme when local authorities took over its funding because it had the highest rate of participation.
Committee member Alex Downie MLC called for the department to encourage local authorities to work together on domestic waste collection.
He said there were presently 53 domestic waste vehicles, which were only collecting a couple of days a week, and not in use for the rest of the time.
Mr Cretney agreed that the current arrangements were ‘not efficient’.