A £300m tidal barrage scheme which would transform Fleetwood has moved another step nearer today.
Natural Energy Wyre (NEW), the company behind the ambitious proposals, says funding for scheme’s £12m feasibility study is close to being clinched.
This whole project is about taking what we already have and turning it in to something that will benefit the whole area
And as a result the team is finally in a position to open an admin office and information centre in the heart of town.
The company has confirmed it has 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.
Renovation work on the premises, a landmark building in the town centre, has now begun and the office is expected to open at thee end of next month.
Bob Long, managing director of Natural Energy Wyre Ltd, says the Fleetwood scheme will become the first tidal barrage scheme in the country.
Mr Long, who lives in Thornton but grew up in Fleetwood, said: “The funding we need to kick start the project will soon be confirmed and this week we have put a stake in the ground which says the scheme is moving forward.
“In all the time we have been working towards the tidal barrage, we have never had an information centre - until now.”
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.
Mr Long added: “This whole project is about taking what we already have and turning it in to something that will benefit the whole area.
“We could simply have moved into some modern office space but we felt it was important to be visible and accessible to the local community and by breathing new life into this historic Fleetwood building, we felt we were being true to the whole ethos of the project itself.”
The barrage will harness tidal energy from the River Wyre between Fleetwood and Knott End, while at the same time creating an ecological tourism attraction.
Fleetwood man Peter Stubbs, CEO of creative agency 2am, is playing a leading role in communications with the local community and said: “We have taken initial feedback from our preliminary outreach work and we are producing a clear exhibition display that will help people to understand the project a little better.
“It will explain how we are not only managing but looking to enhance the ecological education programme.
“It’ important that people know what to expect and when, and staff will then be on hand to answer any question this may raise.”
Derek Eaton, chairman of Fleetwood Chamber of Trade, said: “It is excellent news that this information centre is opening in the town centre.
“It shows the confidence there is in this scheme.
“The barrage will not only create jobs but will bring in visitors and massively benefit the whole town.”