Concerns over the finances of the Isle of Wight’s delayed tidal energy project have prompted a virtual council meeting tonight (Monday).

Questions have been raised after decisions were taken about the Perpetuus Tidal Energy Centre scheme (known as PTEC).

Isle of Wight Council’s scrutiny committee members say they fear taxpayers’ money could be misspent, but leading council cabinet members say a compromise, agreed on September 10, was the best way to ensure a £1 million loan would eventually be repaid.

What is PTEC?

The PTEC tidal energy project won its final planning permissions in 2016. 

When work starts, it will be based around 2.5km south of St Catherine’s Point.

The centre would produce up to 30MW (enough to power 15,000 homes), of clean, renewable energy. The Isle of Wight Council loaned £1 million to set it up, saying it would create jobs and promote green energy technology.

Supporters say the Isle of Wight is the ideal location, due to its strong tidal currents, but those opposed argued it would disrupt fishing grounds and marine life.

PTEC has been in the pipeline since 2013, but is yet to come to fruition. It was due to start operating this year. A change in tack by the government, which meant it lost out on subsidies, is being blamed for the delay. 

What did council cabinet members decide? 

On September 10, council cabinet members agreed not to loan a further £244,000 to PTEC. Up to two thirds of the Isle of Wight Council's shares will be sold and it will step down from the PTEC board.

Instead councillors agreed to extend the existing loan and change the way repayments are made, arguing that would be the best way to ensure the project continues, safeguarding the original investment.

What do Corporate Scrutiny Members say?

Corporate Scrutiny Committee members say they were not given the opportunity to fully consider the plans, because aspects were only discussed (and agreed) on the night.

They say they are concerned the relaxation of the loan conditions may put County Hall in danger of a judicial review. 

Scrutiny committee members will meet virtually, at 3pm, to consider the Cabinet’s decisions, saying they aim to “overcome any public concerns that the decision would result in the misappropriation of IWC and ratepayers’ money, in favour of a private company.”