The man behind an ambitious plan to build a power generating barrage across the Ribble Estuary said interest is growing in the billion pound project.
Alan Torevell, of Manchester finance firm Dewhurst Torevell, and a member of the North West Business Leadership Group, said businesses in the region and politicians were starting to take notice of the North West Energy Squared scheme.
It would involve building tidal wave generating barrages across the mouths of the Ribble, Mersey, Morecambe Bay and the Solway Firth each of which would be topped with a dual carriageway road to improve transport links to the coastal areas of the region.
Mr Torevell is due to meet Fylde MP Mark Menzies to discuss the project but said although it had only been launched this year it was gaining attention.
He said: “We are talking to MPS who are beginning to get interested in what is a major infrastructure project in its initial stages.
“Now we are moving into the second phase getting further publicity with a series of meetings up the North West Coast.
“Political awareness is growing and we are meeting MPs such as Mark Menzies from Fylde and representatives from the local enterprise partnerships.
“It will take two or three years to get the project started and I estimate between 15 to 20 years to finish.
“The beauty of it is the power output it will generate. A detailed survey has been carried out on the proposed Mersey Gateway by Peel Holdings.
“We are calling them Gateways rather than barrages. Because when you say barrage, people think it will stop the tide but it just uses the flow.
“Peel believe they could have the Mersey one up and running within five years.
“That is one of the smaller ones and could generate one terrawatt (TW) of electricity. Just one Heysham nuclear power plant generates eight TW and all five of the Gateways would produce around 20 TW.
“There are all sorts of economical and environmental issues to be sorted out of course, but we have a lot of high powered brains working on the problems.”
Mr Torevell said the Ribble Gateway would probably run from Banks to Squires Gate and generate enough power for 18,900 homes.
He added: “If we could bring it in there it would be more suitable than other parts of the Fylde coast as there are good connecting roads near the airport.
“Blackpool is not the most prosperous town at the moment and this could make a difference. It would make the airport and surrounding industrial estates much more accessible to many more people and the economic benefits they would bring.
“If we can persuade the Government to help get the scheme started off it would take a billion or two but then would attract huge commercial co-funding.
“The attraction would be the energy generated which would make it worthwhile and of course it would be a major piece of infrastructure linking the North West.
“The number of local jobs created in construction alone would be huge and there would be a consequent cost saving on welfare and benefits. Afterwards there would be increased commerce and work generated by the gateways and power generation itself.”