£8.5bn Morecambe Bay ‘tidal power gateway’ and road link plans to go on show

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An £8.5bn “tidal power gateway” road link across Morecambe Bay would provide energy for two million homes and generate thousands of new jobs, according to those behind the proposals.

The project, which would see a road link being built from Heysham to south Cumbria via the Furness Peninsular and then crossing the Duddon Estuary, is being driven by the Northern Tidal Power Gateways board headed by Chief Executive Alan Torevell.

Morecambe Bay. Image courtesy of Google Maps.

Morecambe Bay. Image courtesy of Google Maps.

He will present the project and the latest details to businesses at a Tidal Power Business Forum at Kendal Town Hall on June 7.

The idea, which has been in the pipeline for several years, has received both interest and criticism in equal measure.

Environmentalists have warned that interference with the bay’s tidal flows could affect wildlife habitats at one of Britain’s most precious wetland sites.

The planned £8.5bn project will create a road link across Morecambe Bay between Heysham in north Lancashire and Furness in south Cumbria, and then cross the Duddon Estuary to improve road access to Cumbria’s West Coast.

Mr Torevell said that the tidal turbines will generate predictable renewable energy sufficient to power more than two million homes – equivalent to a small nuclear power station – and create a new industry in the North West generating thousands of new jobs.

Mr Torevell said: “There has been a lot of rumour and speculation about the project which has been under way for more than four years, and we are now at a stage where we want to talk directly to local businesses about the opportunities it will create for economic growth and prosperity in the North West.

“We also want to harness their enthusiasm and influence to ensure the project continues to move forward.

“The North West had played a world-leading role in the nuclear sector and we now have the opportunity to launch a new era of leading the world on tidal power, while at the same time creating making a major improvement to the infrastructure of Cumbria and North Lancashire.”

He said that the tidal power gateway would represent a huge opportunity for the North West, and for the UK as a whole.

It would be the UK’s first large scale tidal range power project - delivering predictable renewable power of 8 million MWh annually (seven per cent of the Northwest power requirement, and two per cent of national power requirement).

Other benefits Mr Torevell said the project would bring include:

Massive infrastructure improvements for Cumbria and Northern Lancashire – the areas most neglected within the Northern Powerhouse plans.

This is an opportunity to redress the balance – to re-energise the Energy Coast and put Northern power into the Northern Powerhouse.

Huge transport savings – an estimated 4.5m annual crossings - reduce distance by 50 per cent, journey time by 75 per cent, with fuel savings of 750,000 litres annually.

Economic benefits – 7,000 jobs created during the construction phase and net 6,000 additional jobs, plus opportunities across the region for the supply chain.

Social benefits - for mobility and healthcare across Morecambe Bay, and radically improving recruitment for vital industries in south and west Cumbria.

Environmental benefits – protecting the wetlands areas within the Bay from rising sea levels. It will reduce carbon emissions and provide an alternative route for the grid connection for any future nuclear facilities at Moorside, without intrusive pylons or tunnelling beneath the Bay.

The Business Forum will open its doors at 10.30am for tea and coffee, with presentations beginning at 11.00am in the Assembly Room at Kendal Town Hall. The programme will include a Q&A session and the event will close by 1pm.

Any businesses wishing to attend should register their interest by emailing mia@nwe2.co.uk or claim your free ticket at https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/northern-tidal-power-gateways-business-forum-2019-tickets.