Chinese in Fleetwood for multi-million pound Wyre Tidal Barrage talks

The proposed Rive Wyre Tidal Barrage
The proposed Rive Wyre Tidal Barrage

Fleetwood’s proposed multi-million pound Wyre Tidal Barrage Scheme has attracted the interest of potential backers from the Far East.

A seven-strong delegation of Chinese business investors visited Fleetwood last week to view the site of the £300 million project and discussed details with developers, Natural Energy Wyre (NEW).

NEW Ltd managing director Bob Long

NEW Ltd managing director Bob Long

Bob Long, managing director of NEW Ltd, says the Chinese contingent is one of several groups interested in the project and is an indication of the scale of confidence in the scheme.

And Wyre Council leader, Coun Peter Gibson, believes the barrage project will go ahead due to the level of financil and political interest in the scheme.

The barrage, one of the most ambitious engineering projects ever planned for Fleetwood, will harness tidal energy from the River Wyre between Fleetwood and Knott End, at the same time creating an ecological tourism attraction.

But Mr Long says the massive cost of the scheme will not be a barrier because of the huge level of interest in renewable energy - as evidenced by the Chinese visit.

Their visit is part of a larger initiative for them to look at several potential investment opportunities in Europe

He said: “Their visit is part of a larger initiative for them to look at several potential investment opportunities in Europe.

“They wanted to come and look at Fleetwood and they were impressed with what they saw. They saw the River Wyre at high tide and low tide.

“Now we will be having further discussions with them.

“Although they are just one of a number of international groups we are talking to, it is a very exciting and interesting development.”

The cost of the scheme includes £15million for the feasibility and ecological studies and £200 million for the build.

NEW Ltd also presented the project to the Wyre Flood Forum and Mr Long says the barrage could have implications of the recent flooding problems at St Michaels on Wyre.

He said: “Although we understand the flooding is the result of a breach in the river embankment, the tidal effect will have played a significant role too.

“If, we were able to prevent the tidal inflow when the river was already high there is a possibility that the breach may not have occurred at all with the assistance of a barrage.

“If the fast flowing and swollen river had not met with the effects of an incoming tide, the pressure on the embankment would probably have been reduced.”

In October the company confirmed it had taken out a five year lease on the former Fleetwood Post Office building on North Albert Street, from which the public can view plans an ask question.

That office is due to open to the public next month.

Mr Long says the Fleetwood scheme will become the first tidal barrage scheme in the country.

The company hopes the feasibility and planning consent for the barrage can be completed in two and a half years, after which building work can begin and the project operational by five years.

Coun Gibson, who met the Chinese at Wyre Civic Centre, said: “The group was led by a trained engineer and came from a major state-sponsored company in China.

“They were very positive about what they saw.

“Given the way things are developing, I am very optimistic the barrage will go ahead.

“I think the fact there is local political support for this scheme is an important factor.”