CONCERNS have been raised at a meeting of Halton councillors over how the Liverpool City Region’s proposed flagship energy project could impact the borough.

Halton Borough Council’s environment and urban renewal policy and performance board were given a briefing about the project at Runcorn Town Hall.

The scheme would harness the power of the Mersey’s tidal flow in Liverpool Bay to generate electricity. Backers say it could generate clean energy for up to a million homes and lead to thousands of jobs.

Last year, the Liverpool City Region (LCR) combined authority approved £2.5m of funding to carry out the next phase of work and develop a preferred option to take forward to planning. Once developed, the design could use either a barrage or lagoon to harness tidal energy.

But fears have been raised by some local environmental groups about the possible impact on wildlife in the Mersey Estuary.

And following the presentation by senior members of the project team, the board’s chairman Cllr Bill Woolfall raised fears about its viability and impact upstream in Halton.

He said: “I’ve been listening to presentations on tidal power for the Mersey for at least five years when I was on scrutiny for the LCR.

“It’s the Mayor’s flagship, it has been since he came in to power. He flagged it up for the last five years.

“We still don’t know if it will work, we don’t know the damage it will have upstream for, in particular, Halton, never mind what’s going to happen in Ince with the salt marshes.”

He added: “Don’t get me wrong, if - if - a scheme like this works, everybody would welcome it. We need to phase out fossil fuels and we need to find alternatives.”

He also raised doubts about the amount of electricity generated by tidal power, suggesting other existing sources of renewables were as good if not better.

He told the meeting: “By 2050, the capacity for the tidal turbines will be something in the region of 330 gigawatts, that was produced by wind power in 2014.

“Are we advancing that much?

Sihwa Lake in South Korea is the world's largest tidal power installation, using an artificial sea wall and turbines to generate energy. But Cllr Woolfall said that scheme had the financial backing of the South Korean government and that any such project on the Mersey would not work without similar support from Boris Johnson’s administration.

He added: “We have to be careful when we’re supporting new concepts that we don’t overcook it and stop looking elsewhere because today, we know solar panels work and we know wind turbines work, we don’t know if this actually works.”