Plans for an ambitious £300 million tidal energy scheme have taken a step forward.
The project by Natural Energy Wyre (NEW) has been boosted by the official launch of its head office and public information centre in Fleetwood.
NEW has invested £20,000 in the new centre at Fleetwood, on the corner of Victoria Street and Albert Street, whose launch was attended by delegates from as far afield as Germany.
The new Fleetwood centre will be a base from which to meet members of the powerful consortium which is now supporting the renewable energy project, which could be the first of its kind in the UK.
In addition to that, it is expected that the premises will soon be ready for the public - including school parties - to come in and study scale models of the tidal scheme and find out more.
The building is not quite yet ready for that - it is expected that the centre will be fully prepared for the public in the coming weeks.
The project, which has previously been referred to as a barrage but is now being called a “tidal head energy plant” will harness tidal energy from the River Wyre between Fleetwood and Knott End - creating an ecological tourism attraction.
Pete Stubbs, creative direction of NEW, said: “Being able to launch this centre and have a presence on the high street is a real statement of intent for us.It means we have a base from which we can conduct meetings with a consortium members and potential investors.
“Having premises just a short distance from where the project will be based is a huge asset.
“In addition to that, the public information element to the office will also soon be ready, which will allow us to better explain the project, how it will work and how it will be of long term benefit to Fleetwood and the surrounding area.”
The new consortium is helping to put together the various funding bids needed to push the energy scheme forward, and the group includes leading companies in the fields of civil engineering (BAM Nuttall) and Andritz Hydro, the Germany-based supplier of electro-mechanical systems and services for hydropower plants.
It is hoped the tidal energy scheme can be up and running within five years.
Fleetwood MP Cat Smith was at the launch of the centre and said: “I was really pleased to see the opening of this new office.
“As well as creating green and secure energy, this project would be a major tourist attaction and help bring economiic regeneration to Fleetwood.”
And NEW chief executive officer Bob Long said: “Electricity generated will power more than 60,000 homes and will provide flood protection that the Envionment Agency cannot accommodate.
“And in terms of uplift to the local area, a £300m investment like this will lead to £800m in commercial growth.”
He added that the scheme would certainly provide a dramatic difference to areas such as St Michaels which suffered £2.8m worth of damage earlier this year.