THE much-delayed tidal energy centre off St Catherine's Point has been delayed again — this time by coronavirus.

A request for an urgent delegated decision was put forward by the council's Regeneration team seeking the funding in the Perpetuus Tidal Energy Centre (PTEC).

The urgency was due to a limited time offer of grant funding — but 'financial uncertainties' caused by the coronavirus have delayed the decision.

Cabinet members Cllrs Stuart Hutchinson (resources) and Wayne Whittle (business and regeneration) said: "The council will delay the decision on the further loan investment until a future date when there are fewer variables to consider in assessing the overall deliverability of the project."

The usual procedure of a delegated decision was not applied because it would have taken too long and would have lost the opportunity to secure match funding.

A loan of £244,000 needed to be in place by the end of March to secure £366,000 worth of funding from the European Union Tiger Project to keep the PTEC running — which has been in 'hibernation' since 2017 due to changes in government policy.

The change meant small investment companies like PTEC were up against more established, bigger businesses who had been the recipient of government funding before, meaning it was harder to secure grants.

In that time, problems with leases, licences and planning applications lapsing, or about to, meant funding was desperately needed to keep the project going or there was a 'major risk' it would be forced back to square one or not go ahead at all — with the council losing its £1 million investment.

The tidal energy generation project is located south of St. Catherine's Point and is hoped it will put the Island at the forefront of marine energy — with interest in the project shown by leading turbine developers and supply chain companies.

The Isle of Wight Council hold 15 per cent of the shares and helped to start the project back in March 2013, aiming to draw in private sector funds, growing the Island's economy and supporting local renewable energy generation.

Funding in PTEC would have allowed the necessary leases and marine licences to be renewed within the next 12 months and enable further phases of work to begin.

While the decision has been postponed, the council has said it will continue to work with PTEC, the Tiger Project and other stakeholders to help inform any future decision.

The council hope to make the Island net carbon neutral by 2030, after declaring a 'climate emergency' in July last year, and believes tidal stream energy would provide carbon-free power to a quarter of Island homes.

The main image is of St Catherine's Lighthouse — taken by Adrian Langridge, a member of the Isle of Wight County Press Camera Club.