Panel to answer Isle of Man wind farm questions

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A panel of experts will attend two public hearings in the Isle of Man to answer questions on proposed wind farm developments in the Irish Sea.

The hearings will deal with plans to extend the Walney wind farm near the Cumbrian coast.

The group will consist of representatives from the developers, the Manx government and ferry operators, The Steam Packet company.

They will be at the Villa Marina at 10:00 and 14:00 GMT on Tuesday.

The company behind the Walney wind farm development is Celtic Array, formed by Centrica - which owns British Gas - and Danish firm Dong Energy.

The energy firm was awarded wind farm development rights for the Irish Sea zone in January 2010.

It is also involved in plans for the Rhiannon wind farm, which would be around 19km (12 miles) north-east of Anglesey and cover an area the size of the Isle of Man.

First announced in January 2010, the project would feature between 150 and 440 turbines and could generate up to 2.2 GW of electricity, or enough to meet the needs of around 1.7 million homes.

Two years of assessment have already been completed to understand the physical, environmental and engineering constraints of building out in the Irish Sea.

If the planning inspectorate gives permission, construction could start in 2017.

There are concerns from local ferry operators that the cumulative effects of wind farm development in the Irish Sea could eventually have an impact on shipping lanes between the Isle of Man and the UK.

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