AN £8bn bridge across Morecambe Bay has been described as a ‘senseless diversion of public funds’ in a blistering attack by a rail campaign group.

The proposed tidal barrage across the bay was recently described as an ‘attractive idea’ by prime minister Boris Johnson.

But the idea has now come under fire from members of the Furness Line Action Group, who think the bridge would be waste of money and have little benefit for Barrow.

Addressing members, the latest FLAG newsletter said: “Why does FLAG need to become involved in questioning these perennial attempts by certain individuals to revive an uneconomic and environmentally-damaging scheme?

“It is because survey after survey- to prove what we already know- is not only a senseless diversion of public funds but also blights investment in our existing rail and road infrastructure. This is a matter for great concern given, even if the project could be forced through against the many objections, we are talking at least 25 years and probably much more before it could be realistically delivered.”

Under potential plans, the multi-billion project would incorporate 130 hydro power turbines along the length of two bridges - one of 14km across Morecambe Bay and another of 5.5km between Barrow and Millom across the Duddon Estuary to generate electricity.

Barrow MP Simon Fell recently put the case for the bridge to the prime minister, arguing it would lead the area towards a ‘green revolution’ and create 7,000 jobs.

Mr Johnson referred the MP to the secretary of state for business, energy and industrial strategy.

Responding in the Commons, the prime minister said: “I am grateful to my honourable friend for bringing that attractive idea to my attention.

“I know that several projects are being considered along the Cumbrian coast.

"I would advise him, first, to get in touch with my right honourable friend the secretary of state for business, energy and industrial strategy to see what he can do to take it forward, and I will give what support I can.”

The rail group described the idea as ‘pie in the sky’ and called for money to be invested in other projects.

“We also need to consider the damage wreaked on our railways by roadbuilding in the 40 years after the war; there is now a cross-party consensus this is not the way forward and the rail revival since 1990 is testament to this,” members were told.

The group said the ‘limited’ usage of the A590 compared to the ‘astronomical cost’ of building the bridge was ‘bizarre’.

FLAG also expressed concern at how long the process of planning the bridge would take.