Campaigners for a tidal barrage across Morecambe Bay and the Duddon Valley will get to put their case to government after Independent MP for Barrow and Furness John Woodcock won the promise of a ministerial meeting.
Energy secretary Greg Clark pledged to listen to the business case for the long-discussed barrages as the government promised to write into law a commitment for Britain to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050.
The Northern Tidal Powers Gateway group claims barrages across Morecambe Bay area could generate enough energy to power 2 million homes and could radically cut journey times by enabling road bridges between Barrow and the Morecambe area and up the Duddon valley.
The relatively high cost of generating electricity from tidal power has thwarted the Morecambe bay plan for many decades but campaigners hope the need for lower carbon energy to avoid a global climate disaster will trigger investment in plans for a tidal power barrage with a highway running along the top.
In a question to Greg Clark, the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Mr Woodcock asked: “Will he meet the team behind the strategic business case which is being put together for the tidal barrage plan going across Morecambe Bay and the Duddon which could be transformative?”
Mr Clark replied stating that he would be “very happy” to do so.
Mr Woodcock also pressed the secretary to step up efforts to rescue the Moorside nuclear power plant following the withdrawal of key investors Toshiba.
Mr Clark responded saying that the government is engaging in a review of the financing model for the commercial financing of new nuclear power plants that is forthcoming: “In terms of nuclear industry, he knows that the financing of new nuclear power stations is something that has been done commercially. One of the things that we have been reviewing, as he knows, is the financing model as to whether there is a different approach that might address some of the difficulties that private sector investors have had in financing the scale of investment that is required for new nuclear and that will be reported on soon.”
The UK is the first major economy to commit to net zero carbon emissions by 2050.
Last week, John attended an awareness raising tidal power business forum in Kendal Town Hall where the company behind the project revealed it is employing experts to draw up a strategic business case to put to government.
The Northern Tidal Powers Gateway, led by chairman Alan Torevell, would see the installation of an £8.5 billion tidal power gateway bridge across Morecambe Bay and the Duddon estuary that would house more than 130 tidal turbines. It is estimated that these turbines would generate electricity equivalent to a small nuclear power plant.
Speaking after the parliamentary session, Mr Woodcock said: “The need to embrace low carbon energy to meet this 2050 challenge could spur on the technological investment needed to unlock the Morecambe bay tidal barrage dream after decades of stagnation.
“We need to reduce net emissions to zero to protect future generations and that will require radical investment into projects such as this tidal barrage alongside recommitting to civil nuclear power in West Cumbria.
“Alan Torevell and his team are now investing in putting together a serious business case that I am looking forward to helping them make the case to government with now we have secured the promise of a meeting with the energy minister. I have long been sceptical about the economics of a Morecambe bay barrage but approaching climate chaos is changing the equation and we are approaching the moment where we should make a once-in-a-generation assessment of this visionary project.”
Mr Torevell commented: “We greatly appreciate Mr Woodcock’s support and his timely appeal to the minister on our behalf. In addition to delivering predictable emission-free energy for up to 2 million homes, the project would have a transformational effect on the Morecambe Bay Economic Area and particularly on Barrow and Furness, creating thousands of new jobs through the construction of the tidal power gateway and the creation of a tidal power turbine manufacturing industry here in the North West. The road links would quite literally open up new routes for investment in Barrow and Furness, and the project itself would place the UK at the forefront of an exciting development in renewable energy generation.
“It is also important to understand that the Morecambe Bay project could be the starting point for producing 10per cent or more of the UK power needs through a series of tidal power projects around the UK. That, plus the long term low price should be set against the apparently high initial capital cost of our project.”