Tynwald has approved a review into the island’s 2014 offshore energy strategy report, which explored the financial potential of exploiting resources in Manx territorial waters.
The report found that the government could gain £5 million in revenue from leasing offshore wind farms, in addition to tapping into seabed natural gas reserves with a potential value of around £400 million.
The motion for a review to be carried out by the end of June, which received almost unanimous approval, had been proposed by Member of the Legislative Council Rob Mercer.
He explained to the Manx Independent that while most items like this have review dates built into them, the offshore energy strategy did not.
He added that the need for a review was further highlighted by the fact the strategy had come up for debate in Tywnald ’numerous times’ in the past eight years.
Announcing his motion in Tynwald, Mr Mercer said that there had been ’significant changes to the regulatory and economic environment [of the offshore energy industry] that may have rendered parts or even the whole strategy out of step with current understanding’.
’I’m concerned that to rely on this strategy as it is now without review or reflection of its content is to rely on out of date information,’ he added.
Among the reasons a review was needed included the ’greater public awareness’ about how energy could be generated in a ’post-carbon fuelled world’, and the fact that the report focused on exportation of energy from the island, rather than the importation of wind electricity, for example.
Another example he gave of a changed factor was that the costs of offshore wind farms had since fallen.
One politician who voted against a review of the report was Middle MHK Stu Peters, who did not want to see ’anything done to prevent a commercial operator from extracting gas if it’s available as expected for the benefit of the people and the economy of the Isle of Man’.
He said that he did not believe the science on climate change ’was settled’, and argued that the island’s energy security should be prioritised.
Among the MHKs that spoke out in support of holding a review was Garff’s Daphne Caine, who cited fears that the 2014 strategy ’encouraged and led to offshore prospecting for fossil fuels, which viewed from today’s perspective is a more difficult situation’.
And MLC Paul Craine supported by saying that it was ’a decade too late’ to be extracting natural gas as the world should be trying to eliminate fossil fuels.