The DfE and DoI are still looking to develop an Airport Technology Gateway, which could see medical cannabis cultivated in the area.
Enterprise Minister Dr Alex Allinson gave an update to Keys today on the plans, which were first put forward by ex chief minister Allan Bell.
While progress has been slow, Dr Allinson said that plans to develop a ‘first class technology and high tech business park’, has continued and suggested that it could be a hub for the island’s medicinal cannabis industry.
He said: ‘Having a landing pad for these tech focused business will support the island’s diversifying economy. There is also continuing interest in the site for inwards business investors, which means this is a catalyst to deliver the project and support those new sectors for the Manx economy. Currently, there is detailed permission for the enabling works although it has longer than expected to progress the plans. This is because of a range of issues which have affected the delivery, such as the number of other capital projects and the coronavirus pandemic. However, since the cross-department project team has been in place, delivery has been accelerated.’
Arbory, Castletown and Malew MHK Tim Glover reminded Dr Allinson that it was the 2019 Budget when Tynwald granted approval for £2.1 in funding for the gateway and it was said to be time for ‘spades in the ground’. He asked the Minister: ‘What is the timescale now, nearly three years on?’
Dr Allinson said he could ‘completely sympathise’ with the disappointment over the delays to the scheme and noted that the gov only owns part of the land and so it is working with other groups on the scheme. However, while Dr Allinson said work was processing, he did not give a timeframe for its delivery.
He also confirmed, following a challenge from Manx Labour Party MHK Joney Faragher, that the technology gateway, in reference to its recent appeals for interest to the medicinal cannabis industry, will be as green as possible (no pun intended) and will be done in a way to meet the island’s climate change commitments.
The Minister said: ‘I can reassure the honour member that in terms of the requirement for power or water in particular, those needs will be assessed as this new sector develops.’