£8.6bn vision for M6 across the bay

An aerial view of Heysham Port.
An aerial view of Heysham Port.

Proposals for a multi-billion pound tidal power gateway across Morecambe Bay go on show to the public next week.

The ambitious plans have been drawn up by an organisation called North West Energy Squared (NWE2), based in Manchester, with an estimated total cost of £8.6bn.

Alan Toverell from NWE2 says the project would be “like an M6 across the bay” and would create enough electricity for 1.7m homes, with a dual carriageway running along the top connecting Heysham to the Furness peninsular.

The group is currently lobbying politicians for support and says the gateway could revitalise local economies in Lancashire and Cumbria.

A model of the project goes on show on February 8 and 9 at The Platform in Morecambe.

Mr Toverell said: “Morecambe Bay is one of a handful of key areas in the UK where a tidal power gateway generating electricity from the movement of the sea would be a practical proposition.

“It is literally at the centre of the whole project and would deliver huge economic benefits including thousands of new jobs.

“It would also provide an alternative method of carrying high voltage transmission cables for the Moorside power station to the existing distribution centre at Heysham, instead of tunnelling under the bay to accommodate the cables.”

The project would see 230 tidal range turbines being constructed across Morecambe Bay and the Duddon Estuary, producing over seven million megawatts a year of renewable electricity, which is equivalent to the output from one of the existing Heysham Nuclear Power Stations.

Mr Toverell said the project will provide thousands of local jobs during its construction and act as a catalyst for further economic growth in Cumbria and Lancashire.

A 3D relief model shows the whole of the North West coastline and how a network of tidal gateways would span Morecambe Bay, the Duddon Estuary, and the Ribble, Mersey and Dee Estuaries to the south and the Solway Firth.

Mr Toverell said: “Morecambe Bay would be the centrepiece of the project and would be constructed as the first part of the overall plan.

“It would reduce road travel distance between Heysham and Barrow from 48 miles 
to 14 miles and connect with the new link road from 
the M6.

“The addition of the much smaller tidal gateway across the Duddon would effectively open up the West Coast of Cumbria for further tourism and business investment, and enable easier access for supply chain partners 
to the Moorside nuclear power station, and the continuing decommissioning and storage projects centred on Sellafield.”

EDF Energy, which runs Heysham Power Stations, itself operates a tidal barrage in Brittany, France, which produces enough power for 225,000 homes and has a lifespan of 125 years.
A £1bn tidal lagoon in Swansea Bay, which would be the first of its kind in the UK and power an estimated 155,000 homes, is currently going through planning processes.

Last year, a seminar was held in Lancaster to discuss the idea of a tidal barrage across the bay.

Lancaster University’s George Aggidis spoke at the meeting.

He said: Here in the UK we’ve become net importers, and we’re right at the end of the pipeline.

“We need much more independence and we have excellent resources we can tap into.”

Members of the NWE2 team will be on hand at next week’s displays.