Fleetwood's £38million Wyre Gateway tidal energy scheme more viable than ever, says team

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Plans for a £380 million tidal energy scheme at Fleetwood now have a more compelling case than ever, the team behind it believes.

The proposed Wyre Gateway project would generate enough electricity to supply 100,000 homes and is at an advanced planning stage.

Often referred to as the ‘Wyre Barrage’ scheme, it has so far been a long haul for this large scale multi-million pound project, which has been in development for more than 15 years.

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But the company behind the project believe a number of factors mean the tide is starting to turn in its favour and are optimistic the plans can press ahead.

The Wyre Gateway scheme in Fleetwood is an ambitious tidal energy schemeThe Wyre Gateway scheme in Fleetwood is an ambitious tidal energy scheme
The Wyre Gateway scheme in Fleetwood is an ambitious tidal energy scheme

What exactly is the Wyre Gateway project?

A massive engineering project, the Gateway would consist of a structure measuring 10m wide and 370m long, housing eight 27ft turbines, four sluice gates and two locks at the mouth of the River Wyre at Fleetwood, and would also create a lagoon which could be used for leisure purposes.

The argument in favour of tidal energy projects is that, apart from being sustainable and ‘green-friendly’ they are much more reliable at generating energy than wind farms, as tidal movement is much more consistent than wind power.

However, they tend to be expensive to construct so finance is a key issue and because of their scale, the planning process is relatively arduous, taking in possible environmental impact factors.

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The Wyre Gateway project would help with any flooding issues, say the team behind it.The Wyre Gateway project would help with any flooding issues, say the team behind it.
The Wyre Gateway project would help with any flooding issues, say the team behind it.

Have any of these projects gone ahead anywhere?

Tidal energy is not a new concept and the world’s first scheme is now more than 50 years old.

The Rance Tidal Power Station, located on the estuary of the Rance River in Brittany, France, opened in 1966 as the world's first tidal power station.

It is currently operated by Électricité de France and was for 45 years the largest tidal power station in the world by installed capacity until the South Korean Sihwa Lake Tidal Power Station surpassed it in 2011.

Bob Long, managing director of the TEDD Group and NEWBob Long, managing director of the TEDD Group and NEW
Bob Long, managing director of the TEDD Group and NEW

Its 24 turbines reach peak output at 240 megawatts (MW) and average 57 MW and it supplies 0.12% of the power demand of France.

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Sihwa Lake Tidal Power Station is the world's largest tidal power installation, with a total power output capacity of 254 MW.

Who is behind the Fleetwood project?

Natural Energy Wyre (NEW), the company behind the Fleetwood proposals, has joined forces with other proponents of tidal energy under the new banner of TEDD, (Tidal Energy and Defence Developments).

The managing director of TEDD and founder of NEW is Bob Long, who has an engineering background and a specialist interest in tidal energy; he grew up in Fleetwood, although he now lives in Thornton.

Mr Long has been driving the Fleetwood tidal scheme for more than 15 years and believes it will bring numerous advantages, including the regeneration of Fleetwood itself through tourism and employment opportunities.

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The eight-strong TEDD team, with members from across the UK, also includes David Evans, with 40 years of experience in the construction industry, financial partner David Grundy and political adviser Andrew Henderson, a member of the Parliamentary Group for Energy Studies.

Nicholas Dimmock, the managing director of 350 PPM Ltd, is onboard as investor relations leader for TEDD.

Is Fleetwood the only TEDD project in the pipeline?

Fleetwood is one of five tidal energy schemes being proposed by TEDD across the UK but would be the first ‘pioneer’ project, as much of the groundwork has already been covered and it is also the cheapest scheme to deliver.

The other four projects being proposed are at the River Solway (between Dumfries and Galloway in Scotland, and north Cumbria); the River Duddon (south Cumbria); the River Mersey (on Merseyside); the River Severn (between South Wales and Bristol).

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What they say

Bob Long says a number of factors have now made the case for such schemes more compelling.

He said: "The UK is facing two serious problems we can help solve – an energy crisis and a flooding crisis.

"This country needs to generate three times more energy than it does at the moment, so sustainable energy projects like these demonstrates a need – especially with the issues with Russia at the moment.

"The rising price of electricity is something our projects can solve and coupled with alternative ways of raising capital through crowdfunding on a major scale , we are no longer reliant on Government money.

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"With global warming, flooding in Wyre has been highlighted as a future risk - the tidal energy scheme will make it possible to to prevent the highest tides surging up-river, effectively holding back any impact that would be felt from flooding on high tides.

"The case for tidal energy is more compelling than ever.”

Where the project is up to

NEW is now embarking on the formal design development, detailed studies, modelling and preparation for the planning and consenting process, through to financial close.

This is expected to take three years to complete, to the point of full planning approval and a final investment decision.

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