Ambitious plans for a £400m tidal barrage scheme at Fleetwood have moved a step closer thanks to a new land agreement - and the scheme could be operational in just over five years.
Renewable energy firm Atlantis has signed heads of terms with the Duchy of Lancaster to lease the land required to build the barrage and flood protection project on the Wyre estuary.
Atlantis has agreed a long-term lease on the riverbed with the Duchy, allowing it to push on with building the tidal barrage, which has a potential capacity of 160 MW.
The “Wyre Tidal Gateway” barrage, considered to be one of the biggest engineering projects in Fleetwood since the town was built, will be constructed on land between Fleetwood and Knott End.
Atlantis, a global operator which has taken the lead on the scheme after forming a partnership with local group Natural Energy Wyre (NEW), expects it will take three years to get all the consents needed to start building.
Once construction starts, the barrage will take three years to complete and is expected to be operational by early 2023.
Fleetwood-born NEW director Bob Long said: “It will totally regenerate Fleetwood and provide thousands of jobs in construction and production phases. We’re delighted with this development.”
Tim Cornelius, chief executive of Atlantis, said: “This is the pathfinder project the UK government is looking for, with the potential to facilitate wide-scale development of the UK’s enviable tidal range resources.
“The development, construction and operation of tidal barrages, a proven predictable renewable energy technology, will stimulate local economies across the country, creating job and supply chain opportunities.”
Atlantis said it would work with the Duchy, Wyre and Lancashire councils, and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy to progress the project, with tenders to be issued early next year.
The group also said it had started discussions with potential development stage investors, adding it would “update the market on the outcome of these discussions in due course”.
The Wyre barrage will be 10m wide and 370m long, housing eight 27ft turbines, four sluice gates and two locks.
Atlantis plans to build a visitor centre alongside the barrage, which has an expected lifespan of more than 125 years.
A consortium of Bam Nuttall, Arcadis, General Electric, Mott MacDonald, and Andritz Hydro has worked on a report on the project to demonstrate its engineering and environmental viability.