Plans for the tidal energy centre have been mooted since 2013, when the council got involved as part of plans to boost the Isle of Wight economy and bring up to 600 jobs to the Solent region.
Earlier this month the council’s cabinet decided, due to the state of its finances because the COVID-19 pandemic, it would not loan a further £244,000 in the Perpetuus Tidal Energy Centre (PTEC), which would allow the centre to receive funding from the European Union.
Now that decision has been ‘called in’ to be looked at by the council’s scrutiny committee.
The Isle of Wight Council did loan £1 million at the start of the project to pump prime it, which Councillor Dave Stewart, leader of the council, said was to help provide jobs and support the green agenda.
Missing out on funding and the expiry of licences has meant the project has been delayed and was the cause of the council holding back further investment.
Speaking at the cabinet meeting, Cllr Wayne Whittle, member for regeneration, said:
“For us to put funding of this magnitude into something at this stage of the game, with Covid going on, is a big ask.
“We only loaned that £1 million in order to create jobs and enable green technologies to thrive on the Island.”
Cabinet also decided to surrender up to two-thirds of its shares in the project which could be sold on for further investment and altered the loan-term agreement for the original investment, extending it by five years.
Now the corporate scrutiny committee, which partially agreed with the steps, have called in the decision for the loan term to be altered as it was not consulted on it.
A statement supporting the call-in says:
“We have become aware of additional information and a further recommendation to cabinet that was not presented to the committee.
“We believe if the committee had been given this additional information, it could have affected its decision.
“We also feel by reading information now available the council is in danger of judicial review.”
The call-in gives the committee the opportunity to fully scrutinise the additional recommendation to ‘overcome any public concerns’ with the decision.
Members of the corporate scrutiny committee bringing forward the call-in are Cllrs Michael Lilley, Debbie Andre, Andrew Garratt and the new chair, Richard Hollis.
A special meeting of the committee is being held today (Monday) to discuss the matter in private.