Plans for a massive man-made lagoon that would harness the power of the second biggest tidal range in the world were presented to an innovative conference being staged in the Westcountry yesterday.
Turbines located in a sea-wall stretching across a Bristol Channel bay from Minehead to the Quantock coast could provide power to over half a million homes – “simultaneously combating coastal erosion, possible future flooding and regenerating the local economy…” according to the company which has formulated the scheme.
Yesterday Devon-based LongBay SeaPower presented plans to the new Bristol Channel Tidal Technologies Conference – the first of its kind to be staged in the UK – which was hosted by West Somerset Council.
Delegates from more than 20 local authorities around the channel were told that the company’s experts had calculated the giant engineering enterprise would cost around £2.4 billion.
The company’s chief executive, John Clyde-Smith, said around £1.6 million would be needed over the next 18 months to bring the project to a planning-permission phase.
The conference was told how a lagoon enclosing over 50 sq km of water across Blue Anchor Bay would incorporate a renewable energy scheme to harness the power of the impounded water to generate electricity.
Mr Clyde-Smith told delegates that not only would the scheme produce electricity “to the scale not yet seen in the field of tidal range energy” – but it would also provide permanent water within the lagoon at all states of the tide.
The resultant man-made “lake” would have the benefit of giving protection to the West Somerset coast which has been suffering from extended coastal erosion in recent times.
The lagoon would also offer a large area of permanent water for boating and other tourism-based activities.
This would allow for a protected marina with unrestricted access to deep water for at least 200 vessels with future potential for up to 600 vessels of all sizes.
LongBay SeaPower says a ferry terminal designed to link Somerset and North Devon with South Wales could be developed alongside a dock for berthing mid-sized cruise ships. All these vessels would have unlimited access to the Bristol Channel via sea locks.
Mr Clyde-Smith told the WMN: “The project is being driven by local people who not only have extensive local knowledge of the area but a fundamental love of it. It is not just about the production of renewable energy but is a regeneration project of the like the area has not seen.”
Longbay SeaPower’s proposals would primarily be funded by private investment, he said, adding that yesterday’s launch was the start of a public consultation exercise.