An energy firm proposing to construct a tidal barrage across the estuary of the river Wyre has secured a deal with the Duchy of Lancaster granting exclusive rights to build the plant.
The £200m project championed by Natural Energy Wyre Limited envisions a 600m-long wall across the estuary incorporating six turbines with an installed capacity of 90MW that would generate energy for the next 120 years.
The agreement with the Duchy will allow the firm to move forward to the funding and planning application stage.
“This is a real milestone in the project, it’s one of the most exciting stages now and gives us the green light to move forward with the next stage in developing a clean renewable energy project right here in the North West of the UK,” said Bob Long, managing director of Natural Energy Wyre.
The plant, expected to power tens of thousands of homes, will feed energy directly into the National Grid and help the UK government to meet the renewable energy objectives, Natural Energy Wyre said.
The firm now needs to secure £10m to complete the planning application. In addition to the Duchy of Lancaster, Natural Wyre Energy has support of many key stakeholders including the Wyre Council, Lancashire County Council and Lancaster University.
“This project reflects the Duchy’s commitment to environmental sustainability and the use of renewable energy,” said Graeme Chalk, head of project management for the Duchy of Lancaster. “We look forward to working with the team at Natural Energy Wyre as they take this project forward to deliver the full range of benefits proposed. Once planning and development issues have been resolved, the tidal barrage will provide a source of green and affordable energy for many years to come.”
The barrage could also serve as an important transport route across the estuary, improving access for emergency vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists.
The project’s proponents believe it will have a positive impact on the local environment and economy due to its touristic potential.
“This is great news for all local people, on both sides of the river and beyond, a real opportunity to be involved in helping the UK become less dependent on imported energy and the burning of fossil fuels,” Long said.
The UK government has committed to cover 15 per cent of the UK’s energy needs by renewable resources by 2020. Current renewable infrastructure only covers about 5 per cent of existing consumption.
The Wyre Tidal Barrage project will be subject to public consultation before possibly moving to a construction phase. Once approved, the construction of the barrage is expected to take three years.