Wight tidal energy scheme will 'ruin fishing industry'

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Plans to create a tidal energy testing site on the seabed off the Isle of Wight will damage shellfish beds, fishermen say.

The Perpetuus Tidal Energy Centre (PTEC) is being created to allow prototype energy turbines to be installed off St Catherine's Point.

Fishermen and business owners in Ventnor said the fishing community was fighting for its existence.

PTEC said it was carrying out a consultation with the fishing industry.

In a statement the company said: "Evidence from other tidal energy projects suggests that PTEC could create hundreds of jobs and attract significant investment into the local economy.

"The tidal energy centre is still in the early stages of planning and if it gets the green light it will put the Isle of Wight at the forefront of the marine renewables industry."

Fisherman Geoff Blake said the proposed development was on the site of a vital fishery.

"For several months a year this is the only ground where significant amounts of brown crab can be found, and the loss of it would take away the economic viability of Ventnor Haven Fishery," he said.

Meg Mortimer, who owns The Met restaurant on Ventnor's Esplanade, said: "We are not against tidal or renewable energy, but it should not be at the cost of local businesses and the local economy in general.

"There are many more suitable areas for this project which would have no impact on this conservation area and area of special scientific interest."

PTEC would lie about 1.5 miles (2.5km) off St Catherine's Point and would produce at least 20MW of marine renewable energy for the Isle of Wight grid, enough to power 8,000 homes.

A public exhibition to explain the scheme is being held on Wednesday 19 March at The Spyglass Inn, Ventnor.

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