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Study into Solway Energy Gateway given the green light
06 July 2009
Together with the Northwest Regional Development Agency (NWDA) and Scottish Enterprise we have agreed to commission a £100,000 feasibility study to evaluate options for harnessing Tidal Energy on the Solway Firth.
Located on the border between Scotland and England, the Solway Firth provides a significant opportunity for tidal energy capture. Recent research by the Joule Centre, the Universities of Liverpool and Lancaster and previous studies by Babtie, Shaw and Morton in the 1960s all highlight the possibilities for tidal energy extraction from the Solway Firth.
The concept of the 'Solway Energy Gateway' is being actively promoted and seeks to extract energy from the Solway Firth by means of a tidal range barrage located between Bowness and Annan. The proposal aims to ensure local communities, on each side of the Firth in England and Scotland benefit directly from this highly significant resource.
The proposed location for the Bowness and Annan barrage is along the route of a former rail viaduct, spanning the upper reaches of the Firth at its narrowest point. This location also provides the advantage of a possible grid connection at the nearby Chapelcross nuclear power station which is currently being decommissioned.
The study will assess additional benefits as a result of the project. These include:
- Significant economic development impact
- Immediate employment and associated employment opportunities
- Flood defence
- Potential for freshwater storage and extraction
- Unique tourism opportunity offering re-branding and promotion of the region
- Improved connectivity for West Cumbria and South West Scotland – if linked to possible constructions across Morecambe Bay and the Duddon Estuary it would help to create an enhanced connective corridor for West Cumbria and South West Scotland.
Steven Broomhead, Chief Executive at the Northwest Regional Development Agency (NWDA) said:
"Increased renewable energy generation is clearly a major aim of the Government's energy and climate change policy. The NWDA is pleased to support this feasibility study, which will provide an important stimulus to the concept of tidal power in England's Northwest.
"The Solway Energy Gateway has the potential to not only provide renewable energy for generations to come; it will also provide significant economic benefits to the local communities, generating jobs and developing the area's tourism potential."
Allison MacColl, Key Sectors Team Leader at Scottish Enterprise said:
"Scottish Enterprise is pleased to offer support to this project to establish the viability of a tidal energy extraction scheme on the Solway Firth which will assist with meeting Scotland and the UK's targets for increased renewable energy generation.
"This study should also help identify the potential scale of economic benefit for the regions either side of the Solway whilst taking account of the status of the Solway Firth as an area of outstanding natural beauty and ecological significance."
Richard Waite, NDA Acting Chief Executive said:
"I hope that the feasibility study is just the first step in what could be a significant economic and environmental beacon for communities on both sides of the Solway, lessening the impact of decommissioning at Chapelcross and Sellafield."
The study will be carried out by a consortium led by the Halcrow Group Limited, supported by nb21c (social enterprise) Ltd the organisation responsible for conceiving, developing and promoting the community based proposal which will support the study.
Nigel Catterson, nb21c Chairman and Solway Energy Gateway co-ordinator said:
"The development team are very pleased with the progress made to date and this next stage represents an important and vital step forward."
A Solway Energy Gateway Steering Group is currently being put in place, with representation from organisations and individuals from both side of the border, funders and interested parties from the public and private sector. This will provide a forum for peer review of progress.
The Northwest Regional Development Agency (NWDA) leads the economic development and regeneration of England's Northwest and is responsible for:
- Supporting business growth and encouraging investment
- Matching skills provision to employer needs
- Creating the conditions for economic growth
- Connecting the region through effective transport and communication infrastructure
- Promoting the region's outstanding quality of life
Scottish Enterprise is Scotland's main enterprise, innovation and investment agency and is focused on supporting business growth and developing a competitive business environment. Working in partnership with industry, academia and the public sector, SE aims to play its part in delivering the Scottish Government's new economic strategy to increase productivity in Scotland by helping businesses grow, encouraging greater innovation and creating the right conditions for companies to access property, markets and finance.
Further information can be found at www.scottish-enterprise.com