20 years of subsea cables celebrated by partnering with Marine Nature Reserves

Manx Utilities’ subsidiary companies Manx Cable Company and e-llan Communications are marking the 20 year anniversary of the commissioning of the subsea electricity interconnector and subsea fibre optic cable to the UK by supporting the sustainability of Isle of Man (or Manx) Marine Nature Reserves.

The subsea cables were commissioned in the year 2000 and remain some of the longest installations of their kind in the World.The subsea electricity cable as well as providing valuable supply resilience, also allows import or export of power via the UK network, enabling Manx Utilities to obtain the best price for the Isle of Man.   

Over the past 20 years 1.5 TWh of power has been exported to the UK grid which has contributed £47 Million to our Island economy.Buried alongside the electricity cable is a fibre optic cable which is operated by Manx Utilities’ subsidiary e-llan Communications. 

The company began commercial operations in December 2007 and provides services to telecommunications businesses and IoM internet service providers on a wholesale basis; whilst further securing the Island’s telecoms infrastructure and supporting the Isle of Man Government’s digital strategy to keep bandwidth costs down.

In 2018 the Department of Environment, Food and Agriculture designated 10 locations as Marine Nature Reserves (MNR), which form the main marine protected areas of our UNESCO Biosphere. 

In collaboration with Manx Utilities, the Little Ness MNR (which shares a boundary with Douglas Bay MNR) ) was  extended northwards, in line with Conister Rock, to include the location of the subsea cables, providing protection and security of supply for the assets from towed fishing gear; which is banned in Marine Nature Reserves.

Over the next 5 years Manx Utilities and its subsidiaries will be helping to partner with DEFA to assist in the monitoring and research of these two Marine Nature Reserves.  It is hoped that other organisations with infrastructure situated within the marine environment will also come forward to lend their support to ensure the sustainability of these important Island conservation locations.

Chairman, Tim Baker MHK told B365, “I would like to commend the team who have maintained both cable assets over the last 20 years which have helped make “power black outs” a thing of the past and provided reliability and resilience for Island broadband customers with the only Manx-owned subsea fibre connection. 

“Looking forwards it is of course also incredibly relevant we recognise and promote the important roles  that the sea and blue carbon play in our environmental future and we are pleased that Manx Utilities is leading the way in helping DEFA with the first Manx Nature Reserve partnership in recognition of the 20 year anniversary.  I very much hope this initiative leads to further support from other organisations which are also active in our marine environment.”  

Minister Geoffrey Boot MHK, added: “The Marine Nature Reserves where the subsea infrastructure is situated are designated to protect the horse mussel reef close to Marine Drive and the diverse habitats and species of Douglas Bay.  The Little Ness reef is the most biologically-diverse site found in Manx territorial waters and represents a significant store of blue carbon.  The support provided under this agreement will enable DEFA to survey and quantify the blue carbon stores in these MNRs, which can help Manx Utilities to offset its carbon footprint and enable its commitment to support our 75% renewable electrical energy provision target by 2035.” 

*£47m to date – made up of £20.5m from UK exports plus additional profits of £16.3m for embedded benefits (triads) and £10.2m for ancillary services (Standing Reserve, STOR and Capacity Market).
*Our record trading year was 2009/10 where we made £4.7m (£1.8m exports, £0.9m triads and £2.0m STOR). Our record export year was the one just gone (19/20) where we exported 192 GWh to the UK and made a net profit of £3.6m (£4.3m total including triads and STOR) 
*Here is the link to the MNR pages and the leaflets for Little Ness and DouglasBayhttps://www.gov.im/mnrhttps://www.gov.im/media/1366092/little-ness-guide.pdfhttps://www.gov.im/media/1366090/douglas-bay-guide.pdfLittle Ness MNRModiolus modiolus (horse mussel) reef biodiversity (Caroline Perry)Hydroids, shark eggs, scallops and sponges (Caroline Perry) Douglas Bay MNRCumanotus beaumonti – is a rare seaslug (only found in Scotland, England, Northern Ireland and Norway) and since 2017 the Isle of Man. Bangor University student (see top image in combined photo) found them in Douglas Bay along with their food source (a hydroid called Corymorpha nutans – see picture) (both images, and lower image in combined photo by Bernard Picton)Corymorpha nutans – is a hydroid that is the food of the seaslug It’s highly unlikely that these species would be in Douglas Bay if it was not a protected area as they are too delicate to survive in areas that are disturbed.e-llan Communications:Resilient and diverse off-island connectivity.Provision of affordable, high capacity wholesale bandwidth enabling IoM licensed operators the ability to innovate and offer a wide range of products and services to Manx businesses and residents.Enabling the expansion of the on-island fibre optic network providing further choice, diversity and resilience for customers.Supporting the implementation of the Isle of Man Government Telecommunications Strategy. Contributed to a substantial reduction in subsea pricing following its entry into the Wholesale telecoms market  Cables land at the rear of the breakwater at Port Skillion [cable in yellow shown on map attached] at low tide you can often see the matressing as shown in photograph of beach.