Advanced proposals to build the world’s largest tidal generator on the banks of the River Mersey have been unveiled by the Liverpool City region’s mayor Steve Rotheram.

The city’s leaders are seeking local permission to progress pre-planning & scoping applications to government for a multi-billion hydropower project, linking the city and the Wirral.

Its backers say their barrage scheme – billed as  “first of a kind” for the UK – could generate clean, predictable energy for 120 years and create thousands of jobs in its construction and operation.

The River Mersey has been the lifeblood of our region’s fortunes for centuries”, Mayor Rotheram said. “Where our area was once a leader in the first Industrial Revolution, we now have an opportunity to seize our chance to become a leader in the Green Industrial Revolution.

“Mersey Tidal Power has the potential to generate clean, predictable energy for 120 years, creating thousands of green jobs and apprenticeships – and all but seal our area’s status as Britain’s Renewable Energy Coast”, Rotheram went on. “Beyond the banks of the River Mersey, this is a national infrastructure asset that could position the UK as a global leader in the renewables race.

Liverpool’s mayor admits significant technical and financial challenges remain to be overcome. But he added “The case for tidal has never been clearer – both for our economy and our planet.”

The announcement comes as the multi-billion-pound scheme moves towards the formal planning consent process.

The Liverpool City Region Combined Authority will be asked on 15 March to approve submission to Whitehall’s Planning Inspectorate later this year of a scoping opinion for the scheme.

In 2021 the authority began early technical assessments to scope the potential scope of a barrage. Operation by the early 2030s is the goal, assisting Merseyside’s push to be Net Zero in emissions by 2040, a decade ahead of national targets.

Mersey Tidal Power is a key part of a push for tidal range projects across the UK, focused on the west coast.  Supporters say tidal ranges can make use of the UK’s abundant natural resources to create greater domestic energy security, complementing offshore wind, hydrogen and solar.

Councillor David Baines, portfolio holder for Net-Zero on the combined authority, said:  “Existing strengths in wind and solar power and emerging strengths in hydrogen mean that our city region is already leading the way in developing a cleaner and greener economy.

“Harnessing the power of the River Mersey to generate green and predictable energy for the next 100 years and more would be an incredible addition to our clean energy mix.  We need to ensure we are extremely aware of our sensitive local ecology but just reaching this stage in the Mersey Tidal Power project has taken a huge amount of hard work allied with vision and would be a big step towards it becoming a reality.”

If agreed, the Combined Authority would carry out a period of engagement, regionally and nationally, with stakeholders. Once the scoping opinion is received, the CA would hold formal consultations across communities and stakeholder groups.  Objections are likely to come from wildlife charities, worried about breeding sites for wildfowl and protected species along the Mersey’s lower reaches.

Decade-long attempts to bring tidal generation to a series of constructed lagoons off Swansea has foundered amid technical & ecological difficulties.   On the English-Welsh border, plans to harness the Severn for power have been equally still-born.

Liverpool region’s report claims its barrage option would be less expensive than a lagoon, requiring less material and lower levels of government support.

Other advantages include a link for pedestrian and cycle travel, pictured, between the city and the peninsula.  A barrage could also help in protecting riverside communities from rises in sea levels arising from climate change.

Submitting a scoping opinion is the first step towards preparing a Development Control Order (DCO) submission, which typically takes up to three years. The submission describes the project and asks the Planning Inspector to advise on the scope and breadth of surveys needed to complete the documents outlining the environmental impact of the scheme.

Its backers say a Mersey tidal power project would be the largest tidal range scheme in the world, bringing proven technology for the first time to Britain.  The multi-billion-pound project would create thousands of local jobs at least during construction, bringing economic benefits to Liverpool’s city region, leaving it with an green power asset that could operate for more than 120 years.



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