Isle Of Man / Ellan Vannin

Irish Sea wind farm threatens ferry service

Wind turbine
Image caption A wind farm development is planned for about 12 miles off the Manx coast

An Isle of Man shipping company said its services will be threatened by a planned wind farm in the Irish Sea.

Steam Packet Company chairman Mark Woodward said proposals for turbines in shipping routes would increase journey times and make it impossible to operate some services.

He said: "It is disappointing that Centrica have chosen to ignore the island's route requirements."

Energy company Centrica were contacted but were unavailable for comment.

Routes between Douglas and Heysham and Liverpool are used by more than half a million passengers a year and provide freight services to and from the Island.

Mr Woodward said journey times on routes using conventional ferries would increase by 15 minutes.

He added: "The additional crossing times to the Isle of Man might not sound like significant deviations to Centrica, but in practice they would lead to very serious economic and practical consequences for the island in general and in some circumstances would even threaten the long-term viability of Liverpool services in particular.

"An extra 15 minutes would make it physically impossible to operate winter Ben-my-Chree Birkenhead services, while twice daily Liverpool services could also be impossible in certain situations."

The development is planned for about 12 miles off the Manx coast and outside Manx territorial waters.

Centrica was awarded wind farm development rights for the Irish Sea zone in January 2010. It met shipping companies earlier this year and held a series of public consultations in February.

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