Backers of multi-billion-pound tidal barrages across Morecambe Bay and the Duddon Estuary are set to meet Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Greg Clark to discuss the ambitious projects.

Independent MP for Barrow and Furness John Woodcock won the promise of a meeting from Mr Clark during a debate in Parliament, as the company behind the combined road and tidal generation schemes, Northern Tidal Powers Gateways, ramp up its efforts to attract support and funding.

Mr Clark has pledged to listen to the business case for the long-discussed barrages during a week when the Government committed that it would write into law a commitment for Britain to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

The £8 billion road and barrage project, which would run from Barrow to the Heysham area, has the potential to 6,500GWh of electricity a year – enough to power around 1.5 million homes – and create 7,500 construction jobs.

Extending it across the Duddon Estuary could provide a further 100GWh a year, which could power a further 25,000 homes and provide a vital economic link across the Morecambe Bay region, along with onward connections to West Cumbria.

The barrage development – led by Chairman of Northern Tidal Powers Gateways Alan Torevell – would consist of dual carriageways and house more than 130 turbines.

Speaking after the parliamentary session, Mr Woodcock said: “The need to embrace low carbon energy to meet this 2050 challenge could spur on the technological investment needed to unlock the Morecambe bay tidal barrage dream after decades of stagnation. 

“We need to reduce net emissions to zero to protect future generations and that will require radical investment into projects such as this tidal barrage alongside recommitting to civil nuclear power in West Cumbria. 

“Alan Torevell and his team are now investing in putting together a serious business case that I am looking forward to helping them make the case to Government with now we have secured the promise of a meeting with the energy minister. 

“I have long been sceptical about the economics of a Morecambe Bay barrage, but approaching climate chaos is changing the equation and we are approaching the moment where we should make a once-in-a-generation assessment of this visionary project.”

Mr Torvell welcomed the MP’s support and “timely appeal” to the Mr Clark. 

“The project would have a transformational effect on the Morecambe Bay Economic Area and particularly on Barrow and Furness, creating thousands of new jobs through the construction of the tidal power gateway and the creation of a tidal power turbine manufacturing industry here in the North West,” he said.

“It is also important to understand that the Morecambe Bay project could be the starting point for producing 10per cent or more of the UK power needs through a series of tidal power projects around the UK.  That, plus the long-term low price should be set against the apparently high initial capital cost of our project.”

The promise of a high-level ministerial meeting comes almost a week after an event was held in Kendal to highlight the potential opportunities for businesses off the back of the development, organised by Northern Tidal Powers Gateways and Cumbria Chamber of Commerce.

Consultants Mott MacDonald were working on a strategic outline base case, which it would then be able to take to regional and national bodies to push for funding.

The barrage has the potential to generate the equivalent of a small nuclear power station.

During the parliamentary session, Mr Woodcock also quizzed the business and energy secretary on the future of the Moorside site, after the demise of NuGen’s plans to develop a £15bn power station there.

Mr Clark said a review of the financing model to support new nuclear developments was being undertaken.

“In terms of nuclear industry, he knows that the financing of new nuclear power stations is something that has been done commercially,” said Mr Clark.

“One of the things that we have been reviewing, as he knows, is the financing model as to whether there is a different approach that might address some of the difficulties that private sector investors have had in financing the scale of investment that is required for new nuclear and that will be reported on soon.”

The Government’s preferred way of supporting new nuclear projects is through a Regulated Asset Base Model, which many believed scared off Korean utility Kepco and other potential investors in NuGen.

The Nuclear Industry Association’s annual conference in December was told that adapting the RAB model – typically used in water and transport infrastructure developments – was still years from being completed.

Earlier this week the NIA’s chairman, Dr Tim Stone, stressed that a development needed to “happen quickly” at the Moorside site if nuclear was to remain a significant part of the UK’s energy mix.