I bought a book in a Strand Street bookshop recently that was all about the island’s old heydays, 1900s-1960s and when the island was a popular tourist destination, now long forgotten about over nicer more exotic places.

I bet nobody back then could ever imagine that in the year 2023 some of the crumbing buildings are still here and the back streets, and even promenades are still standing!

The Isle of Man is a beautiful island and thankfully this doesn’t change all year round, even if there are noisy motor bikes many of us residents hate!

The low tourist numbers nowadays reflect that fact they would prefer sunny Spain, rather than windy and rainy Isle of Man!

So now is the time to think seriously about new ways for the island’s economy to grow.

The lack of ‘needed’ infrastructure from the Manx government is disappointing. Nobody asked for the ‘hula hoops’ that are meant to be roundabouts on the main promenade road in Douglas for example, yet they seem to have money for such useless, meaningless projects and no money to invest in projects or schemes that would actually benefit all island residents!

Why are buildings either empty, boarded up or derelict across our island’s capital?

Just look around Douglas and they will not be hard to spot, what’s that abandoned building project at one end of Strand Street doing for example?

Just go to either end of the island, Ramsey or Port Erin and you will find similar examples. It really isn’t good at the moment on the island!

Yes, Brexit might have been a reason some businesses left the island, but we were all told the Isle of Man was never part of the UK or EU anyway, despite it wrongly stating ‘European Union’ at the top of our passports issued in the Isle of Man. So, this cannot be a genuine argument, can it?

Perhaps a recession is looming and companies can no longer justify having an Isle of Man office, as well as a Jersey, Guernsey and Gibraltar one too. We have a bigger land mass than all of those similar type countries, yet the infrastructure is by far better there than here sadly.

However, there is one area seriously lacking in the Isle of Man, and that is renewable energy development.

How many times has a company tried to start something on the island, involving Manx staff and wanting a partnership with our own government in Douglas, but it hasn’t materialised due to a lack of support or interest from MHKs?

According to one news release ‘Leasing the Manx seabed for renewable energy could generate £5m a year’.

Also remember the Isle of Man Government not getting behind another project ‘Manx Tidal Energy’ according to Isle of Man Newspapers in October 2018.

But it doesn’t stop there sadly, in 2013/14 there were many people like me that attended interviews at the job centre in Douglas with Isle of Man Government staff, as a UK firm was planning on developing a site in the north of the island for wind turbines and one government department approved and other didn’t, hence why it never went ahead in the end.

Another complete waste of time for people that wanted to do something positive to combat climate change and save our planet!

The most recent venture is ‘Crogga Ltd’, who were selling company shares only last month and advertised in the local newspaper. Yet despite them wanting to drill for natural gas and maybe even oil in future (should there be any and with approval) within Manx waters and of course the huge potential this could bring to the island’s economy again. Does the Isle Of Man Government invest, make it easy to set up a business or help develop the idea? No! So much for Freedom to Flourish!

Importing fossil fuels is expensive and morally wrong, especially with shortages, strikes and their own supply problems, the UK is no longer a long-term solution for us here on the Isle of Man.

Wouldn’t it be better for the Isle of Man Government and the government of Ireland to build partnerships and opportunities now, as the Republic of Ireland is within the EU and this could provide greater investment opportunities and even additional markets for island businesses, etc?

If the Manx argue they are not British, then surely they are European then, so let’s see it!

The Republic of Ireland is fast becoming a base for green sectors and the Isle Of Man should not be left behind in the forefront of renewable energy development.

Science and industry can work together against this planet’s climate emergency through investing in renewable energy firms setting up shop here on our island. Tidal and wind energy potentials are in plentiful supply on the Isle Of Man and Tidal Farms offshore could be created to power our towns and villages into the future.

Details the Irish drive to reducing climate change effects and making positive impacts to the environment. Why isn’t the Isle of Man yet?

Great organisations such as the Manx Wildlife Trust do the best, they can with the limited resources they have in trying to help support the island’s wildlife and natural habitats, but they can only do so much.

All industries need to reduce their Carbon Emissions and Footprints and by investing in the renewable energy sector now, it would aid this process and also create employment and investment opportunities in the long run.

Already the United States Department of Energy are partnering and investing millions of dollars in renewable energy projects and science projects in the Republic of Ireland.

The Isle of Man should be attracting this sort of global interest and investment too.

The Second Offshore Renewable Energy Development Plan (Government of Ireland) or OREDP 2, details the future plan and potential for Southern Ireland and Denmark is the largest developers of wind and tidal energy products and services, 10 billion a year! Why? Because the Danish Government has invested in a brighter, greener future! When will the Isle Of Man Government do the same then?

We could have a Manx solution to a global problem here, exporting to the UK and RoI, which have greater demands from their bigger populations.

The Isle of Man has great potential, but once again, where are our own inspirational leaders? Too busy focusing on the quick buck (e-gaming and financial services), which by the way, are becoming few and far between, as more and more people can’t afford such extras such as online betting, etc.

But more commonly businesses can not justify an Isle of Man base anymore and many banks have closed their Manx operations and out-sourced them.

Or perhaps a few hundred visitors a year (if lucky) for the TT Races is all the Isle of Man Government wants and that is enough to leave an old-fashioned looking, depleting (in many parts) island going into the next century? If this is the case, it is very disappointing!

Everybody knows the island has an aging population and also attracts the retired person.

But they cannot help the island’s economy, as they are not working, not paying taxes (only VAT), so the government will have to think long and hard if they still want to provide essential public services such as transport (no not the free bus pass), healthcare, pensions, education, and housing, etc.

I myself had to vacate the island due to a lack of employment opportunities.

I had to go away to study, like many 20- to 40-year-olds have.

Most do not come back, however. That is why there is a big age gap missing on the island.

Yes there are many children at schools and elderly on a pension, but where are the working age people? – the ones paying taxes, building the society and communities we all want to see and live in?

They are in the UK/RoI/EU, etc due to better-paid jobs, cheaper living costs, better entertainment opportunities (like nightlife) and more career scope, etc.

So, if the Manx Government do not want to keep dipping into their every decreasing reserves, they should listen to experts and professionals that want to help the island truly flourish before its too late and not worth saving!

John Fletcher


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This letter was first published in the Isle of Man Examiner of March 28.