New Container Port Could Be Built On East Coast

A state of the art container terminal could be created at The Wash in East Anglia as part of an ambitious tidal power scheme. Centre Port is described as ‘the world’s first tidal powered deep-sea container terminal.’ The project would involve building an 18 km long tidal barrier to link Lincolnshire and Norfolk on the east coast of England. 

New Civil Engineer reports that a timeline has been announced for the £2bn scheme, which could start in 2025 and be completed by 2030 should planning consent be granted. The plans include a hydroelectric dam which could supply power to 500,000 homes and businesses.

The barrage would link Gibraltar Point and Hunstanton with a dual carriageway across the top that would reduce journey times and congestion on the roads. The Centre Port scheme would also create a deep sea container port that would have capacity to handle super-sized container ships.

James Sutcliffe, chief executive officer of Centre Port Holdings, said that the scheme has the potential to create 1,200 jobs for the region. He also claimed that The Wash has a tidal area of 780sq km that could be harnessed for renewable energy production.

Sutcliffe also claims that the tidal barrage will act as a flood defence system for the coastal areas of Norfolk, Lincolnshire and the Fens, some of which are just 2 metres above sea level and are particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change. This could help preserve the natural habitats of the Fenlands.

He told the BBC: “Because we can shut down the turbines, which have sluice gates in them, we can then stop surge tide coming through from the North Sea, like it did in 1953 and 2013, and stop it damaging the countryside and preserving The Wash as it is today.”

Mr Sutcliffe said: “It is enormously important for the Fens. The impact of glacial and ice sheet melting is that the sea levels will rise in a seriously short space of time. Something has to be done to protect the Fens. It should have a beneficial effect to the economies on both sides of The Wash in terms of the possibilities for new factories and jobs and businesses.”

However, environmental conservation groups have raised objections to the plans, claiming that they will damage the existing natural habitats of the animals, birds and other creatures that live around the coastline. 

Tammy Smalley, from Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust, said the scheme would prevent some animals, such as seals, from feeding off the coastline.

She said: “You’ll lose the birds, you’ll lose the seals, you’ll lose the fisheries. You’ll lose habitats that also sequester – capture carbon – like salt marsh. They’re more effective at capturing carbon than trees. So it’s a wholesale change for wildlife that’s highly unlikely to survive.”

The project has already attracted initial funding from Centrica for the tidal power elements, and Sutcliffe may make a case for Government funding as part of the Levelling up scheme. 

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