Britain's longest bridge 'threatens wildlife'

A A A

Plans for Britain's longest bridge across a 12-mile wildlife haven in Morecambe Bay were unveiled yesterday, prompting criticism from conservationists.

Plans for Britain's longest bridge across a 12-mile wildlife haven in Morecambe Bay were unveiled yesterday, prompting criticism from conservationists.

The bridge, linking Barrow-in-Furness in Cumbria with Heysham in Lancashire, would be much longer than the current record-holder, the Humber Bridge, which has a 1,542-yard main span. It would deliver some of the southern Lake District's healthy tourist trade to the old ship-building town of Barrow and slash journey times across the region.

Incorporating sophisticated sub-sea technology to harness tidal energy in the estuary's fast-flowing waters, the structure would also be the world's first "green bridge" according to David Brockbank, the local businessman behind the plan. But his designers must overcome environmental hurdles if they are to get it built. As Mr Brockbank and his financial backers outlined the plan's benefits at a public meeting yesterday, English Nature was warning that interference with the bay's tidal flows could affect wildlife habitats at one of Britain's most precious wetland sites. Mr Brockbank is the latest in an illustrious line of engineers and entrepreneurs to have been attracted by the challenge of creating a structure to link south-west Cumbria with Lancashire. The Victorian engineer George Stephenson toyed with the idea of building an Ulverston to Lancaster railway but eventually left it to others. Plans to build a barrage across Morecambe Bay surfaced 20 years ago - but were dropped on environmental grounds.

Mr Brockbank, a former chairman of the Lake District National Park Authority's development control committee, stumbled on the idea when considering how to expand his small hydro-electric power generation business, near Kendal. His plan is to build the bridge on a series of underwater stansions that incorporate Canadian-designed vertical axis turbines to harness the tides.

"We didn't set off to to build a bridge here," he said yesterday. "We want to put in tide turbines [to harness] the flow of the water going in and out of the bay [but not] restrict the water in any way." His Bridge across the Bay company includes Bill Davies, a director of Lancaster University's environment centre, and has British, Dutch and Australian investors. It is also supported by Cumbria Tourist Board on the grounds that it would bring more visitors to the southern part of the Lake District.

The proposals, which were recently backed by Cumbria county council, form part of an energy renewal strategy in North-west England, which has rich potential for wind and tidal power in the Irish Sea. A total of £1bn has been invested in renewable energy projects.

Though the bridge's capital costs are likely to be formidable, the tide turbines could generate half the power of a medium-sized power station and would make the project commercially viable, according to Mr Brockbank. The North West Development Agency has been approached for funding for further feasibility studies.

The project is pitching two old environmental adversaries against each other: the renewable energy lobby and conservationists. Morecambe Bay is second only to the Wash for its birdlife and its coastal lagoons and saltmarshes are among the most protected sites in Europe. "The bay is dynamic and reducing the amount of tidal energy [potentially] affects all the habitats and the wildlife they support," said Chris Lumb of English Nature yesterday.

News
people
News
John Rees-Evans is standing for Ukip in Cardiff South and Penarth
news
Arts and Entertainment
Bianca Miller and Katie Bulmer-Cooke are scrutinised by Lord Sugar's aide Nick Hewer on The Apprentice final
tvBut Bianca Miller has taken on board his comments over pricing
Life and Style
Approaching sale shopping in a smart way means that you’ll get the most out of your money
life + styleSales shopping tips and tricks from the experts
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Elton John and David Furnish exchange marriage vows
peopleSinger posts pictures of nuptials throughout the day
News
in picturesWounded and mangy husky puppy rescued from dump
Sport
David Silva, Andy Carroll, Arsene Wenger and Radamel Falcao
football
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

The Jenrick Group: Quality Inspector

£20000 - £21000 per annum: The Jenrick Group: This high quality manufacturer o...

The Jenrick Group: Electrical Maintenance Engineer

£30000 - £35000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: Electrical ...

Recruitment Genius: Photo Booth Host

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This company offers London's best photo booth ...

Recruitment Genius: Domestic Gas Service Engineers



£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Domestic Gas Service Engineers ...

Day In a Page

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'