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Mersey barrage scheme

Steve Rotheram, the new Liverpool City Region Mayor has recently announced plans to look again at the feasibility of constructing a Mersey Estuary Barrage in order to create green energy and provide a stimulus for employment and investment.

Cheshire Wildlife Trust is keen to support renewable energy schemes in the right place, but a barrage scheme in the Mersey Estuary has the potential to cause significant environmental damage. The Mersey Estuary is a complex and dynamic habitat of inter-tidal mudflats, saltmarshes and rocky shores supporting tens of thousands of feeding birds. Many of the birds arrive here from northern Europe, Canada and Siberia, using the estuary as a stop-off to refuel on the worms, shrimps and shellfish that are found on the mudflats. The importance of the estuary is recognised internationally and it currently benefits from the highest level of European protection.

Over the past few decades the river Mersey has benefitted from vast improvements in water quality, which has in turn enabled the return of fish, such as sea trout, eels and lamprey. After many years of absence salmon are now back in the estuary and are migrating upstream to spawn in the headwaters of the river Goyt in the Peak District.

Potentially irreversible changes caused by the construction of a badly designed barrage, such as the design that was put on hold in 2011, could put at risk this incredibly important ecosystem and the survival of the species that live there.

We have the technology and the knowledge to not destroy the environment in the pursuit of renewable energy; however if we do it wrong we could end up destroying the very things we are trying to protect – biodiversity and our quality of life.