THE Morecambe Bay tidal bridge has now been estimated at costing £10 billion, which has increased from the last estimation of £8 billion.

The Northern Tidal Power Gateways (NTPG) project is providing evidence to the Government on plans to build tidal range power barrages across Morecambe Bay and the Duddon estuaries that could generate emission free power for 100 years and protect fragile ecologies from the threat of rising sea levels.

NTPG is responding to the Government call for evidence on the potential of Marine Energy projects in Great Britain. The business is working with Barrow MP Simon Fell and a consortium of Cumbrian MPs to provide information that will feed into the Government’s forthcoming energy white paper.

The £10 billion Morecambe Bay and Duddon project will deliver eight million megawatt hours of predictable, emission-free power annually, enough for 2 million homes, and create more than 12,000 new jobs.

NTPG is also working with Cumbria LEP and the Moorside Consortium in relation to the Cumbria Energy Hub concept, and has had discussions with major companies in Cumbria about the project that will provide shorter road links between South and West Cumbria and Lancashire.

An important element of the case being put by NTPG is the fact that smart turbine technology can protect the eco-system of Morecambe Bay which is under threat from predicted rises in sea levels associated with global warming , and safeguard coastal communities from tidal flooding.

Chris Nelson, Communications Director for NTPG said: “We recognise the vital importance and value of the ecology and wildlife in Morecambe Bay and the Duddon Estuary and will do our utmost to protect it when we deliver the tidal range power scheme.

“Environmentalists recognise that the whole world is threatened by global warming and the potential of every emission-free power source must be explored.

“They must also acknowledge that Morecambe Bay’s most sensitive areas are threatened by the almost inevitable sea level rises.

“No-one else is proposing a viable solution to that threat.

“But our scheme will provide the means to regulate sea levels in the Bay and protect those sensitive areas, while at the same time delivering predictable, emission-free power.

“Added to that are the benefits of a new shorter road link between Lancashire and South and West Cumbria, a new turbine manufacturing industry established in the North West, and the creation of thousands of high value jobs.

“Taking into account all of those factors and the huge amount of work already undertaken by NTPG and its partners to move tidal range power forward, this huge potential for improving the environment and our energy security cannot be ignored.”

NTPG has stated in its proposal information that implementation of tidal range power requires input of the design, delivery and operation by ecologists and environmentalists.

The business has already engaged with organisations including the Environment Agency, Natural England and the Government’s Marine Management Organisation.

It will work with the Natural Environment Research Council’s research institutes including the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology and the National Oceanography Centre, and has funded a study by Lancaster University into the impact of rising sea levels on Morecambe Bay.

The UK coastline has some of the world’s best locations for tidal range power generation and the Morecambe Bay/Duddon Estuary scheme will be a proving ground for the latest technology and create the foundation for a new tidal power industry.

That will in turn support a broader vision of tidal power installations on the West Coast from the Solway Firth to Somerset, harnessing a rolling tidal flow with the time difference in the tides of these estuaries generating power for up to 24 hours a day. That could increase the output of predictable emission-free electricity towards 120TWh p.a. – delivering 20 per cent of the UK requirement for electricity by 2050.

The group of businessmen and academics behind the Northern Tidal Power Gateway have already invested almost £1 million in the project working with Mott Macdonald to prepare its case for the UK Treasury.

To take it to the next stage the project requires Government backing to fund research into the impact of the development on the environment, undertake more extensive stakeholder engagement, and develop detailed plans for methods of modular construction to be used to create turbine housings, and other elements of the project.

The project has attracted the support of local authorities bordering Morecambe Bay and on Cumbria’s West Coast along with MPs and Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership, and discussions have also taken place with major business interests including BAE Systems, Holker Estates, and Associated British Ports.