The Wyre estuary is home to many varied species and highly acclaimed as a Sight of Significant Scientific Interest (SSSI) and also enjoys the protection offered by being a designated RAMSAR site, which focusses on the protection of wetlands.
Although this could be seen as a barrier to this project, the team at NEW Ltd. sees this accolade as a valuable asset and hopes to nurture growth and the environmental tourism market.
Management of this fragile environmental infrastructure has negative financial implications for NEW Ltd. as optimum energy output cannot be achieved whilst minimisation of environmental remains the main focus.
Designers have thought long and hard about this conundrum and devised a regime that will become known as “ECO-Thep” management – ecologically managed Tidal hydro energy plant.
ECO-Thep management leaves the tidal ranges unaltered on both sides of the gateway and extremely large sluices are employed to achieve this.
Sluicing high volumes of water is counterproductive to power production but allows ample time for the passage of fish and maintains the revelation of valuable un-grazed salt marsh, essential for wading birds in particular.
This strategic management regime actually reduces the returns of annual power production by around £5m but the company considers this a small price to pay to maintain the ecological status of this estuary.