The south Isle of Wight coast is too good to spoil, say residents opposed to a delayed tidal energy scheme agreed in principle for a site off St Catherine's Point.

The Perpetuus Tidal Energy Centre (PTEC) project has had permission from The Crown Estate since November 2012, outline permission for an onshore substation and cables since June 2015 and won the go ahead for its offshore plans, from the Marine Management Organisation, in April 2016. It is supposed to be working by now and a change in government policy is being blamed for the hold up.

The new start date is 2025.

A deal is already agreed to site O2 turbines off the Island, which look like aeroplanes lying on the surface of the water, 2.5 km south of St Catherine's, around 6 km from Ventnor, in an area 5km square. (Scroll down to see a picture...)

Those opposed to the project say one turbine unit is about the size of an Airbus A380 plane.

Isle of Wight County Press: The PTEC site is off St Catherine's Point.

Above: The scenic walk to St Catherine's Point. Below: Image of Isle of Wight tides by PTEC.

Isle of Wight County Press: Image of Isle of Wight tides by PTEC.

Under the water, 12m blades 'sweep more than 900m to capture flowing tidal energy.'

Opponents cite a lack of fine detail, fears over the project's on and offshore impact, and loss of Isle of Wight control.

They argue money would be better spent on tried and tested alternatives, like solar power.

Jenny Dominey lives near the Flowers Brook beauty spot, between Ventnor and Steephill Cove, where generated electricity would come ashore, into a transformer in the Southern Water Services compound.

A substation/control room is planned there, along with a warning of 'some additional traffic during the construction phase'.

Jenny said: "Our concerns are the noise that will come from the transformer - the size of two double decker buses - and the other buildings that go with it.

"It's in the wrong area, opposite a local community area.

"You've got sites of special scientific interest (SSSIs) close by."

Jenny is also worried that any potential future expansion plans would mean more transformers.

PTEC argues its onshore substation/control room would be 'small' and 'sited sensitively to minimise visual impact.'

Isle of Wight County Press: PTEC site

The PTEC site.

Scope for the scheme means other technology could also be trialled here - PTEC says it is in discussion other tidal turbine makers.

Opponents say that might be in the form of structures that poke out the water - potentially platforms with surface piercing elements, just over a mile offshore and navigational markers on the perimeter of the site.

Linda Sullivan of the Undercliff Community Group said: "We all support renewable energy.

"We think it's vital and important, but not at any cost and there are far better places to put a tidal energy scheme."

"It is harm not help, in our view."

PTEC claims the environmental footprint of its project is one eighth the size of an equivalent wind farm and says it is 'not believed to harm marine life.'

But residents say more environmental studies should be carried out, arguing data currently being used is too old to be relevant.

Isle of Wight County Press: The Orbital O2 turbine - an example of a device to be deployed at the Perpetuus Tidal Energy Centre.

The Orbital O2 turbine - an example of a device to be deployed at the Perpetuus Tidal Energy Centre.

They are also worried that the Isle of Wight Council has now lost control of the project, after a decision in September by former cabinet members.

Linda said: "The council should have said it would take PTEC's shares back.

"They've given up the right to financial control, any position on the board and the right to control the project.

"If this project is so good, why hasn't PTEC been able to fund it?"

John Whitehouse is the chair of the Undercliff Community Group, working to distribute information leaflets across the Isle of Wight.

"We're trying to let people know what is going on and that we want to try to save the Island's coast," he said.

"The fishermen are concerned that crab fishing breeding grounds will be spoiled and porpoises and other animals might be killed."

"Anyone on the Island can be accused of nimbyism. What we don't want is to ruin the south Wight heritage coast," said Linda.

Chris Innes, from the Undercliff Community group said: "The project isn't viable. It's in the wrong place.

"If you're going to embark on a project of this size and scale, you need to consider the impact."

PTEC says detailed plans for onshore buildings are due to be submitted to the Isle of Wight Council in the next few months and if they are passed, work will start in 2023.

Meanwhile, public consultation webinars are taking place this week (PTEC says it cannot run face-to-face sessions because of Covid-19) and residents are urging Islanders to comment on the plans.