PLANS to site tidal energy turbines off the Isle of Wight have been given approval by the Crown Estate.
The Isle of Wight Council plans to place prototype and pre-commercial tidal turbines on the seabed near St Catherine's, and said the deal was a major step towards creating a Solent Ocean Energy Centre (SOEC).
The council has agreed a 20 year lease with the Crown Estate, which it hopes will help attract private investment for the plans that have already attracted international interest.
The Isle of Wight Council has committed £1m to the project, in addition to securing £700,000 of European funding.
It is hoped it would become a test facility capable of generating 20MW — enough to power 8,000MW — as well as creating or safeguarding about 200 jobs on the Isle of Wight over it's lifetime.
George Brown, Isle of Wight Council cabinet member for the economy, said: "We have for some time felt that the opportunities presented by the Island's tides have not been taken full account of in the UK's energy planning and have worked hard to raise the profile of these possibilities within the renewable energy sector.
"The agreement with The Crown Estate represents a major advance in our plans. We are delighted that our project has in effect been supported by The Crown Estate.
"With this agreement in place we can drive the project forward on two fronts – firstly providing the necessary infrastructure for pioneering tidal energy companies and then working to attract those pioneers and their investment to SOEC and the Island.
"There is very firm private sector interest in the project and we are very excited about the prospects for the green agenda and the local economy."