Russian company Martex to present plan for world's first combined tidal and wave power plant at Strangford Lough
The Russians are coming – to present a Northern Irish council with extraordinary plans to build a barrier across Strangford Lough.
Ards councillors have voted to invite energy company Martex Invest Ltd to brief them on a plan to create a tidal power plant.
The unique structure would also see the first road constructed over the lough – a beauty spot and important wildlife habitat.
Portaferry SDLP councillor Joe Boyle said he looked forward to the day he could drive from Portaferry to Strangford village across the mouth of Strangford Lough, known locally as the Narrows.
He proposed that the Russian businessmen be invited to address the council.
Mr Boyle said the barrier would run by Ballyquinton Road just outside Portaferry to Killard Road on the south Down side.
"It is anticipated that the construction would bring constructions jobs to the area," he told the council, while some representatives made jokes about Cold War submarines.
"This has the potential to be the largest green energy scheme on the island," he told the council."
Portavogie UUP councillor Angus Carson seconded Mr Boyle's proposal, but said he had many questions about the plan.
"Certainly there will be a lot of questions," he told the meeting.
"But I welcome it and hope to see a thorough debate. There are many issues concerning this type of project and I am interested to investigate more into it."
Mr Boyle summed up saying: "What I could really look forward to is driving on a road over Strangford Lough."
The tide at Strangford is one of the most powerful in the world.
There is already a tidal turbine generator in the lough which can produce enough electricity to power thousands of homes.
The 250MW construction at the mouth of the lough would produce 1115GWh of green energy a year and could be a "famous attraction", said Martex Invest Ltd.
There is a similar scheme in Kislogubskaya in Russia.
Down District Council has already voted to invited Martex Chief Executive Vladlen Lunin to outline plans to them.
In a letter to Down District Council, Mr Lunin said the construction would boost the local economy and expand transport infrastructure. He also claimed it could be a tourist attraction.
"It is well known that second in popularity with tourists after the Eiffel Tower site is the Rance tidal power plant in France, visited by up to 200,000 tourists a year.
"It is quite realistic to expect that something similar will happen with the Strangford tidal power plant.
"The Strangford tidal power plant's dam will be equipped with a number of sluices sufficient for the migration of fish and marine animals.
"In addition, a road is to be constructed on the dam that will connect the existing Killard and Ballyquintin Roads, improving transport."
- Martex Chief Executive Vladlen Lunin