Rival unveils energy masterplan

An artists impression of the proposed bridge
An artists impression of the proposed bridge
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Fleetwood’s proposed £200million tidal barrage scheme for the River Wyre has been well documented - but an alternative project is also being proposed.

Behind the scenes work is quietly progressing on an estimated £100 million-plus “electric bridge” scheme which will create electric power using an alternative “tidal stream” method.

Frank Heald

Frank Heald

The group behind the scheme, Wyre Tidal Energy (WTE), believe the bridge enterprise will have less impact on the environment than a barrage and will be cheaper.

Frank Heald, a director of WTE, says funding for a pre-feasibility study for the scheme can be obtained within the next two months.

And the organisation is non-profit, with money made from the power generated being ploughed back into the community of Fleetwood.

Mr Heald said this week: “Ours is not a barrage scheme, it has some similarities but it will generate energy differently and will not affect the ebb and flower of the river.”

It will generate differently and not affect the ebb and flow

While the barrage scheme, being proposed by Natural Energy Wyre, would involve the creation of a dam-type structure spanning the mouth of the river with six turbines, the WTC designs would instead feature the electric bridge from which the generators would be suspended to pick up the force of the tide.

Mr Heald added: “The electric bridge scheme can act as a catalyst in bringing tourists in, like Fleetwood’s own Blackpool Tower.

“The directors do not want any gain for themselves. This is community venture to assist regeneration of the town and the structures will be set up so that the profit from this installation goes to the community, after the commercial funding is repaid.”

He added: “This is not a rival to the barrage scheme as such, although it is an alternative.”

Only one of these schemes could get the go ahead and they could not co-exist. The pre-feasibility study and report is estimated to cost £100,000 and it is hoped it can be ready within six months.

The full feasibility report, consents and planning are hoped to be ready in two years at a cost of £1m, and construction would take two years and cost £100m.

Meanwhile, Fleetwood residents will be able to see an in-depth model of the kind of turbine which will be used in the town’s other proposed scheme.

The £200m Wyre Tidal Barrage scheme is to be promoted with a new information centre in the town, in premises on North Albert Street which are currently being renovated.

Among the various displays will be the turbine model.

Natural Energy Wyre (NEW), the company behind the ambitious proposals, has taken out a five year lease on the former Fleetwood Post Office building on North Albert Street, where the public can view plans and ask questions.

Bob Long, managing director of Natural Energy Wyre Ltd, said: “We have to make sure the information centre is absolutely right, as this will be one of the main ways we engage with the public.”