Arbory and Rushen Residents have expressed their concerns about Manx Utilities' plans for wind farms in a public meeting that was held last night.

Concerns were raised about the closeness to homes and the impact it could have on local wildlife.

The MUA did not send a representative to the meeting but in a statement provided to the Local Democracy Reporting Service, Chair Tim Crookall said it would not be ‘appropriate’ to attend.

Kirie Jenkins, Arbory and Rushen Commissioner said: 'They are firing on all cylinders to try and get this project rushed through by 2026 which is a CoMin set deadline.

''From the Freedom of Information responses that we are getting back, there are officers who are voicing their concerns, environmental impact assessments haven't been done.'

Jason Moorhouse, Arbory, Rushen and Castletown MHK, said that he has two motions to introduce on the matter.

He said: 'One of the motions is looking at Highland areas around the island, these are so important for the island in terms of wildlife, in terms of attracting people to the biosphere status.

'The other one is in terms of huge development, when they come along, it is important that local people play a part in the initial discussions, .

'We can't have something like we have had this evening, where people are sidelined, have to come together,they have to come together and send their ideas to the decision-making authority who will then potentially consider them.

'It is an outrage that in a small island, we can't get the representatives from the MUA to come along, to listen to us, to talk to us this evening.'

In a statement from chair of Manx Utilities Tim Crookall it said: 'On behalf of the Board I would like to thank the Deputy Clerk for his invitation for myself and officers to attend a Requisition Meeting to be held on August 29 2023. 

'As has been widely communicated, Manx Utilities have been given the target of decarbonising the Isle of Man’s electricity supply by 2030 and the Council of Ministers further approved the delivery of 30 MegaWatts of electricity produced from onshore wind and solar energy by 2026. 

'These targets have been set within the IOM Government Island Plan and driven by both the need to decarbonise the system but also to take the Island away from the reliance on fossil fuels to harness our natural resources and reduce the risk of exposure to price volatility within the energy markets. Utilising a publicly-owned wind farm and solar sites will also ensure that all the benefit received from those sources are passed to all customers across the Island at the lowest possible cost per unit.

'Following the declaration of the climate emergency in 2019 and approval of the Climate Act, 2021, Manx Utilities has been working on various projects with specialised consultants to assess the Island’s capability to support onshore renewables whilst maintaining security of supply for its customers. This includes the identification of suitable generation sites across the Isle of Man, identifying the most suitable locations to connect renewables onto the power system, assessing the technical limitations of the power system, identifying the most suitable technology mix of renewables for the Isle of Man and identifying the ownership route which provides the best value to customers of the Isle of Man. Based on these studies, the electricity produced from onshore wind best aligns with how electricity is used on the Isle of Man and has the lowest cost of all viable renewable technologies. However, solar on buildings and car parks can be delivered more rapidly. The ownership route which offers the lowest possible cost to consumers is public ownership. 

'Solar power can be generated in almost all areas of the Isle of Man and there are no specific resource constraints. For solar this means utilising the brownfield sites which have the greatest area and best access to favourable solar conditions: this includes carparks and roof space at Nobles Hospital and the NSC. 

'Wind speeds are not the same across the Isle of Man and the higher wind speeds are available at locations in upland areas which have access to the prevailing wind direction (south west) to maximise the amount of electricity generated for the investment required. For wind, this means utilising upland areas where there is a suitable network connection within close proximity, suitable road access, and sites which best avoids environmental impacts, that cannot be mitigated.

“The delivery of onshore renewables is a long, carefully considered process and Manx Utilities will be engaging with stakeholder groups as the journey progresses

'Significant further work is required to verify the detail of these proposals and fully understand the Earystane site. With significant construction schemes there is always a challenge as to how much work is undertaken before the proposals are announced and we have sought to do this promptly. Further assessments of the site will continue to fully understand the site and the impact a wind farm could have on the site and the surrounding area. In the meantime, we continue to upload information on to our website in the spirit of being as open and transparent as we can without compromising the public purse and IOM Government Financial Regulations. We fully intend to engage with stakeholders as we work through the various stages of our programme and will arrange public sessions in due course.'