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Mersey barrage would be threat to wildlife, claim


CHESHIRE Wildlife Trust is appealing for Liverpool City Mayor Steve Rotheram to consider the threat to estuary wildlife of the potential Mersey barrage scheme.
A feasibility study looking at generating tidal power from the River Mersey has recently been awarded funding by the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority.
The purpose of constructing a Mersey Estuary Barrage would be to create a source of green energy as well as providing employment and investment opportunities for the city. While the Trust is keen to support renewable energy schemes in the right place, it feels a barrage scheme in the Mersey Estuary has the potential to cause significant environmental damage.
The Mersey Estuary is a complex habitat of inter-tidal mudflats, saltmarshes and rocky shores which supports tens of thousands of feeding birds. Many of the birds arrive here from northern Europe, Canada and Siberia and use 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 Mersey has benefitted from vast improvements in water quality, which has led to the return of fish, such as sea trout, eels and lamprey. After many years of absence salmon are also now back in the estuary and are migrating upstream to spawn in the headwaters of the river Goyt in the Peak District.
Charlotte Harris, chief executive officer of Cheshire Wildlife Trust, said: “We believe that the construction of a badly designed barrage, such as the one that was initially proposed back in 2011, would put this vitally important ecosystem at risk and be a severe threat to the survival of many species.
“If we are to believe that the environment will be of high importance to the government following Brexit, schemes such as this must be considered with their environmental impact in mind. The Mersey Estuary is internationally important for birdlife and is protected as a Special Protection Area for Birds and by the Ramsar Convention, the highest level of protection that can afforded to wildlife sites. Recent research has shown that the Mersey Estuary is one of the best wetlands for birds in the UK, we can’t afford to put this at risk.”
Cheshire Wildlife Trust are urging people to write to their local MP and/or Steve Rotheram, to express their concerns about the proposed scheme. Further details are available on their website at: www.cheshirewildlifetrust.org.uk/merseybarrage


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