The National Trust has warned that the proposed £2bn tidal barrage across The Wash in East Anglia would greatly harm the nature and habitat in the area. On November 22nd we reported that the Eastern Daily Press had revealed plans 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.

The developer 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.



Conservation concerns

The developer, Port Evo, says: “The local environment is seriously at risk from climate change. Our mission is to retain the Wash boundaries, its wildlife and ecology and to minimise climate change impacts that could devastate these sensitive areas”, New Civil Engineer (NCE) has reported. 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 National Trust is concerned about the effect that it will have on various animals in the region, most notably for the countless birds. A spokesperson said: “The Wash is one of the most important estuaries in the UK. Straddling Lincolnshire and Norfolk, the area’s vast salt marshes and mudflats are an important site for migratory, over-wintering and breeding wetland birds.

“Therefore, news of a potential new container terminal and tidal scheme in an area designated for its importance to wildlife, is deeply concerning. We know that nature is already close to breaking point, and we should be doing all that we can to protect it.”

Port Evo argues that Centre Port will in fact help rather than hinder the natural environment. It says: “Centre Port’s hydroelectric development, that enables the tides to come and go as before, will enable the Environment Agency and wildlife bodies to request closure of the sluice gates on the turbines to stop the Wash sea defences being over topped and wild life habitats from being inundated or washed away by flooding.”

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. 

Seed funding secured

NCE reports that the project has received six figure seed funding from energy specialist Centrica, with which it also has a power agreement. The project is now looking to raise £8M for a two-year feasibility study, on which it will engage with environmental and technical consultancies.

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