Ian Stephens, the Independent Parliamentary Candidate for the Isle of Wight, has this week met with Isle of Wight Fuels Ltd to discuss the long-term sustainability of their business here on the Island.
Isle of Wight Fuels owns and operates the Island’s only fuel oil storage terminal and has been serving the Isle of Wight for 60 years providing a range of fuels, oils and lubricants to keep the Island running smoothly.
Oil and fuels arrive by sea in Isle of Wight Fuels’ 550 tonne oil tanker “Rix Merlin” where they are stored at the East Cowes terminal providing fuel for domestic and agricultural use, as well as supplying fuel for filling stations, commercial operations and distributors.
Should the East Cowes depot be out of action for any reason the Island would quickly suffer from fuel shortages, with huge effects on the day-to-day activities of residents and businesses. However, you don’t need to panic: the Council’s Emergency Planning team have access to local and national strategies to help overcome this and to ensure that Emergency Services could continue to run their vehicles.
“The Isle of Wight is vulnerable to disruption due to being an Island and having to import the majority of our food and fuels by ship. We must ensure that the future of our Island’s only fuel depot is protected because delivery of liquid fuel by ship is the only viable way of meeting our current demand. As such I will be working with Isle of Wight Fuels Ltd to help overcome some of the current constraints that limit the potential of this business.”
At the meeting it became clear that the main constraint is the restricted size of ships that can bring the fuel supplies across the Solent. This is due in part to an obstruction caused by the chains of the Cowes Floating Bridge.
Ian goes on to add:
“There exists the opportunity to explore engineering solutions to the chain problem during the procurement of the replacement Floating Bridge, so a potential solution could be found in the near future.”
A replacement Bridge comes as part of the wider East Cowes regeneration project which is well underway and Ian is hopeful that wider economic opportunities may be gained through the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership with match funding provided by businesses who can benefit from better shipping access to the Medina.
Whilst other parliamentary candidates have jumped on the ferry companies bandwagon none have addressed this more fundamental issue of transport on the Island which can affect everyone – children getting to school, people driving to work, bus users, motorcyclists and farmers.
Without a reliable source of fuel the Island would essentially be at risk of stepping back in time to a world of walking, cycling and horse power, which whilst sure to be a novelty to tourists wouldn’t be as amusing to those of us living here.