The Eastern Daily Press has reported that plans have been revealed for a tidal barrage stretching from Norfolk to Lincolnshire, which could generate tidal power, protect the Fens from flooding and allow a new deep sea container port to be created.



Centre Port, which is behind the scheme, wants to build a hydro-electric dam across The Wash from near Hunstanton on the Norfolk side of the estuary to near Skegness in Lincolnshire. It says the £2bn barrage would create the world’s first tidal-powered container terminal and help protect the low-lying coastline and inland communities from rising sea levels and increasingly frequent storm surges.

The news from The Wash follows on from renewed interest in tidal impoundments elsewhere in the UK. In March 2022 we reported that a new commission was to look again at whether a barrage or tidal lagoons could be built in the Severn Estuary to generate energy from the tides.

Conservation concerns

However, conservation groups fear the proposals would have “catastrophic impacts” on nature and wildlife.

The RSPB, Norfolk Wildlife Trust (NWT), Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust (LWT), the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (WWT) and Wild Ken Hill Estate are urging developers to rethink the plan. In a statement, the groups say: “The Wash is the UK’s most important estuary for wild birds, home to England’s largest common seal colony, and an important fishery. A tidal barrage would fundamentally alter the nature of the intertidal habitats on which this wildlife depends.”

Centre Port’s chief executive James Sutcliffe said: “We can control storm surges so all the bird sanctuaries, salt marshes and so on don’t get washed away, it’s going to conserve The Wash and its bird life like it is today.”

Mr Sutcliffe said the tide would be allowed to enter and leave the estuary via the turbines, which would generate enough electricity to power 600,000 homes, along with the port, which could handle 1.5m containers a year.

What next?

Power company Centrica has signed an expression of interest in electricity from the scheme.

Plans for a barrier were proposed in 2008 but abandoned after an outcry from conservation groups. Back then a scheme won cautious backing from the Conservative MP for North East Cambridgeshire, Malcolm Moss, who said it had “tremendous potential”.  In 2019, the Environment Agency said some kind of barrier might one day be needed to protect low-lying areas of King’s Lynn.

The Eastern Daily Press reports that Centre Port is now trying to raise £5m for a feasibility study.

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