A flythrough video has unveiled the ambitious vision for the world's largest tidal scheme on the River Mersey in the UK. The reveal comes in the wake of a significant decision by Mayor Steve Rotheram and the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority to advance the Mersey Tidal Power project into the formal planning phase.

The proposed tidal barrage between the Wirral and Liverpool has been earmarked as the preferred option for the Mersey Tidal Power project.

In a meeting held on Friday, March 15, the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority voted to initiate the formal planning process by drafting a scoping opinion, marking a crucial step towards realizing the tidal power scheme. If realized, it could potentially generate clean energy for 120 years and create numerous employment opportunities in both construction and operation phases.

“The River Mersey has been the lifeblood of our region’s fortunes for centuries – and it has an even more vital role to play in our future. Where our area was once a leader in the First Industrial Revolution, we now have an opportunity to seize our chance to become a leader in the Green Industrial Revolution,” said Steve Rotheram, Mayor of the Liverpool City Region. “Mersey Tidal Power has the potential to generate clean, predictable energy for 120 years, create thousands of green jobs and apprenticeships – and all but seal our area’s status as Britain’s Renewable Energy Coast. Beyond the banks of the River Mersey, this is a national infrastructure asset that could position the UK as a global leader in the renewables race and help to turbocharge our net zero ambitions.

“We are under no illusions, we know there are still significant technical and financial challenges to overcome, but the plans we’ve agreed mark a huge step on our journey to bringing Mersey Tidal Power to life. Quite simply, the case for tidal has never been clearer – both for our economy and our planet.”

The proposed barrage not only promises to revolutionize the region's energy landscape but also offers additional benefits such as facilitating a cycling and pedestrian route over the river and bolstering defenses against future flooding risks exacerbated by climate change.

Over the past three years, the authority has conducted extensive technical groundwork to outline the scheme's scope, which could be up and running within a decade, playing a huge role in the region’s push to be net zero carbon by 2040.

Councillor David Baines, Portfolio Holder for Net Zero and Air Quality, highlighted the significance of harnessing the River Mersey's potential, emphasizing its role in diversifying the region's clean energy mix and fostering economic resilience.

“Existing strengths in wind and solar power and emerging strengths in hydrogen mean that our city region is already leading the way in developing a cleaner and greener economy.  Harnessing the power of the River Mersey to generate green and predictable energy for the next 100 years and more would be an incredible addition to our clean energy mix.  We need to ensure we are extremely aware of our sensitive local ecology but just reaching this stage in the Mersey Tidal Power project has taken a huge amount of hard work allied with vision and would be a big step towards it becoming a reality,” Baines said.

Prior to the scoping opinion being submitted the Combined Authority will now carry out a period of engagement, regionally and nationally, with stakeholders. Once the scoping opinion is received, the CA will hold formal consultations across communities and stakeholder groups.

The scoping opinion will be based on the creation of a barrage across the river. The report to the CA notes that a barrage option would be less expensive than a lagoon, requiring less material and lower levels of government support. 

Submitting a scoping opinion is the first step towards preparing a Development Control Order (DCO) submission – a process which typically takes two to three years. The scoping opinion submission describes the project and asks the Planning Inspector to advise on the scope and breadth of surveys needed to complete the documents outlining the environmental impact of the scheme.