Ambitious plans for a £200m tidal barrage scheme in Fleetwood could be ready to build within two years, says the man leading the project.
Bob Long, managing director of Natural Energy Wyre, has hailed the involvement of two of the country’s leading consultancy firms which he believes can help secure the project, which would create hundreds of jobs.
Multi-national environmental experts Hyder Consultants and engineering heavyweights Arup are now on board the scheme and providing key assistance and advice.
At the latest meeting of stakeholders including representatives of both firms as well as Lancashire County Council and Wyre Council, Mr Long said he was confident the first phase of funding – £500,000 needed for the initial business plan – is deliverable in the near future.
And he said the building of the barrage could even begin within two years.
He later told the Weekly News: “Now we know what we need to do and how to go about it.
“The barrage is a huge scheme involving planning, environmental and engineering aspects on a massive scale.
“Not only is it deliverable but if things work to plan, we could be ready to start building within two years.”
In addition to the half a million pound business plan, a further £2.5m would then be needed for a feasibility (engineering and environmental) study and a further £200m to build.
The barrage scheme would see a the River Wyre estuary dammed by a concrete wall which would include a huge turbine creating sustainable electric energy.
In addition, the dam would create a lagoon which could be used for leisure activities such as sailing.
Another feature would be a weight-restricted road to Knott End for emergency vehicles, cyclists and pedestrians.
Once all the studies are complete, planning approval would have to be given at Government level, with Wyre Borough and Lancashire County council also expected to act as consultees.
The stakeholder meeting was held at the North Euston Hotel and was chaired by Labour life peer, Baroness Ruth Henig of Lancaster.
Also at the meeting was Wyre Council leader, Coun Peter Gibson, who later said: “This scheme will have massive benefits to Fleetwood and Wyre, in terms of enticing visitors and we have heard there are people who may be willing to invest the first half a million pounds.”
Thornton man Mr Long, an engineer by trade who grew up in Fleetwood, said: “We expect the barrage to be a huge tourism draw for Fleetwood, bringing in 600,000 visitors each year, who in term would spend money and boost the local economy.
“It will also provide a flood defence scheme and in addition create renewable energy.
“There would also be jobs in the construction phase as well as in the leisure industry.
“With Fleetwood’s economy at a desperately low ebb, this will help regenerate the town.”
David Evans, a civil engineer who leads Arup’s water business in Wales, North West England and Northern Ireland, has been involved with another tidal barrage scheme, the completed project in Swansea.
He said: “The scheme in Fleetwood is relatively small and could be a trailblazer for other barrage projects across the country.”
And Baroness Henig said: “This scheme will bring so many benefits to the area and I was delighted to come on board.”