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05 December 2010  

Doctor Hilary Ash, an environmental expert from Cheshire Wildlife Trust who helped to set up and fund New Ferry Butterfly Park has voiced some words of caution about the proposed new barrage project which could potentially be built at New Ferry.

Peel, the major international development company who built Manchester's Trafford Centre, and are owners of Liverpool John Lennon Airport and the Liverpool and Birkenhead docks system (where they are proposing the 10bn dual developments of Liverpool Waters and Wirral Waters) are now proposing to build a 2bn - 3bn barrage across the Mersey, to use the tidal flow of the river to generate electricity. 

This new barrage proposal has been discussed for well over a year already. When the discussions started, 4 possible sites for the barrage were being proposed.  However, now - in late 2010 - just one area is currently being looked at: somewhere between New Ferry and Eastham Country Park.  Peel have chosen this area because the width of the river and tidal speed are just right to be able to generate the most cost effective amount of electricity.

A similar barrage was proposed to be built off Shorefields over 20 years ago.  At that time, in the late 1980s, there were also proposals to build a "road deck" over the barrage.  Residents from Rock Park to Bromborough were appalled at the plans and fought a co-ordinated campaign to fight against the scheme which was eventually dropped on the grounds of costs.  Some years after this proposal, New Ferry's beach was designated as a "Site of Special Scientific Interest" giving it special recognition as a site of ecological importance.

When asked for her comments about the proposals, Doctor Hilary Ash from Cheshire Wildlife Trust said:

"The quandary we find ourselves in is that global climate change is THE biggest threat to wildlife (and people), but renewable energy schemes in the wrong place can be badly damaging and have to be fought. So a full barrage, with severe effects on the whole of the Mersey Estuary RAMSAR site upstream, will be all systems go to fight - strengthened by the decision to stop proposals for the Severn because it is just so expensive and damaging to build a barrage.

"As far as the local situation goes, obviously any barrage/tidal fence at New Ferry would change the landscape drastically. It might bring some new jobs - or might not. The effects on the beach would have to be assessed by the ecological team - a major task - but with bird numbers on the Mersey itself likely to be decimated, there would obviously be impacts on New Ferry beach. There would be changes to siltation rate - that needs expert modelling but could go either way, so we could have rapid siltation to saltmarsh, or increased erosion.

"We haven't yet received any papers from Peel outlining the conservation case as its still early days and until Peel officially announce the details of their preferred short list the potential impacts of each type of scheme are not known"

Whilst Hilary thinks the proposals need some careful thought about what damage could be done to the environment, others think that using tidal power schemes such as this might be a better answer to generating cleaner electricity.  Some people are suggesting that the project could be a good thing for New Ferry IF it came here: there could be more jobs generated for the area, house values might be improved, and it would also draw visitors coming to the river to view the barrage - it therefore could potentially become a tourist attraction.  So there are pluses and minuses as far as this project is concerned.

Peel are holding a series of public exhibitions - the next nearest to us will be at:

Bromborough Library and Civic Centre

Thursday 13th January, 2011

12pm till 6pm

We strongly urge everyone to attend this exhibition to see exactly what is being proposed and for residents to make up their own minds whether to support the proposals or not.

You can find out more about the proposals and dates/venues for the public exhibitions on the Mersey Tidal Power website.

Acting as representative of the New Ferry community, NFRAG (New Ferry Regeneration Action Group) is interested to know what YOU think about the proposals and what you would like us to say on your behalf at meetings which will inevitably be held next year.  We have set up a separate guestbook for you to tell us your comments about the proposals.

Read comments about the proposals

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