‘Never a better time’ for Mersey tidal barrage project

The cost of not developing a multi-billion pound Mersey tidal project far outweighs any financial outlay, it has been claimed.

Plans for the world’s largest tidal project that could be built on the banks of the River Mersey were unveiled last week as city region leaders move towards taking the first step towards a planning application.

Politicians believe that the multi-billion pound barrage scheme, the first of its kind in the UK, could generate clean, predictable energy for 120 years and create thousands of jobs in its construction and operation.

Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram told the final meeting of the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority before May’s elections there has “never been a better time” for a project of its size.

Over the last three years, the authority has undertaken early technical work to develop the potential scope of the scheme, which could be up and running within a decade. It is hoped the project can play a huge role in the region’s push to be net zero carbon by 2040.

A report to the combined authority said a barrage option would be less expensive than a lagoon, requiring less material and lower levels of government support. It outlined how this option would offer numerous other advantages, including the possibility of a pedestrian and cycle link between Liverpool and Wirral.

A barrage could also help manage long-term environment issues related to climate change, including managing the effects of sea level rise on the Mersey.

Submitting a scoping opinion is the first step towards preparing a Development Control Order (DCO) submission – a process which typically takes two to three years.

The scoping opinion submission describes the project and asks the Planning Inspector to advise on the scope and breadth of surveys needed to complete the documents outlining the environmental impact of the scheme.

Cllr David Baines, portfolio holder for net zero and air quality said, “The project has progressed steadily and appropriately in exploring how a tidal range scheme – which is tried and tested technology – can best be deployed in the Mersey Estuary. It is proposed to focus on how that can best be done as a barrage scheme.

“This is the leading UK tidal project and we must continue to push forward to secure government funding and consenting of such a high profile scheme. Recent meetings with government have been encouraging and supportive and politically we’re doing all we can to work with the shadow ministers with one eye on the next general election.”

“The journey to net zero isn’t just about meeting the challenge of climate change, it’s about seizing the opportunity of new technology, innovation, new jobs and our national energy security. The cost of not doing it is significantly greater than the cost of doing it.”

Endorsing the scheme, Mr Rotheram said the project – which the authority hopes to have a working business case for by 2028 – had the potential to “transform” the region. He said, “People do ask, this has been around a very long time, why hasn’t it been done before and why do you think you can do it now? It’s because technology has changed.

“The fact now we’re building a detailed business case that can be scrutinised, it’s not just a concept or an idea now, it’s how we would do something. Let’s be under no illusions though, this is still a difficult project to get over the line.

“We do need somebody with the same level of ambition that we’ve got to bring this project on board.”

Images: LCR

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