Area Plan for the North & West

Liberal Vannin held a public meeting in Sulby Community Hall last Wednesday evening (May 19th), giving residents of the Ayre & Michael constituency the opportunity to find out more about the government’s current consultation exercise on the Area Plan for the North and West. The meeting was well attended and Liberal Vannin would like to thank everyone who took the opportunity to share their views and express their concerns.

The meeting was led by Paul Weatherall, Chair of Liberal Vannin, and resident of Ballaugh, who said:

“I felt that holding a meeting like this was important. Presentations have been given or planned in Peel and Ramsey, but nothing seemed to be happening in Ayre & Michael. Sulby is a good central location for people to get to. It is useful for people to have an opportunity to discuss matters before completing the consultation.”

A variety of views were expressed, with many voicing concerns about individual development proposals. The broad consensus was that the green and pleasant land that makes up most of the Ayre & Michael constituency should be protected. There was agreement that there was little need for additional housing, except for additional sheltered housing and care home provision, for our growing numbers of elderly people. This may need to be reviewed when we have the data next year from the 2021 census currently being undertaken. We will also need to reflect on any permanent changes to lifestyle resulting from the pandemic, such as increased working from home and the reduced desirability of living near to offices in Douglas.

Protection of habitat for wildlife was seen as important; not only for our native plants and animals, but also for the wellbeing of people who live here, and our visitors, who value our natural environment as eco-tourists. The lack of information within the consultation documents on proposals for additional sites for habitat protection was a concern. Concern was also expressed at the erosion of parts of the coastline in the constituency and the lack of mitigation measures being proposed.

Paul Weatherall also queried the lack of information on proposals for wind turbines in the area. There are three sites identified for the constituency. Clarification on their status by government would be helpful. He said:

“It is difficult to comment on the Area Plan for the North and the West, without full disclosure of such matters of strategic importance. It is also unhelpful that many of the sites for development proposals listed and shown on the plan maps may be ruled out because they fail to meet existing planning criteria. The consultation documents issued could have given guidance on that, site by site.

As the consultation documents acknowledge, it is expected that the data from the current census, when it becomes available next year, will lead to a review of requirements for the North & West. A review of The Island Strategic Plan and the National Infrastructure Plan will also need to be reviewed by the next administration. The recently commissioned KPMG study will feed into these reviews, as will decisions on where we go with Climate Change mitigation measures, particularly those relating to power generation.”

Everyone attending was encouraged to participate in the consultation exercise and Liberal Vannin will be including the points raised at the meeting when it makes its own submission.