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Wyre Tidal Barrage no longer plans funding via Circuit of Wales backer Aventa Capital

The developer behind a multi-million-pound project has severed ties with its financial backer, Aventa Capital Partners – the investor behind the £370m Circuit of Wales racetrack.

Natural Energy Wyre, which is developing the £300m Wyre Tidal Barrage, told Construction News that Aventa was no longer involved in the project, after it refused to provide funding prior to a crucial funding deadline.

The Wyre Tidal Barrage project in Fleetwood is a renewable energy scheme that will provide 100 MWh to the surrounding area.

Wyre Tidal Barrage managing director Bob Long said he was “disgusted” with Aventa after it refused to provide funding less than 30 days before the developer had to meet an investment deadline with the site’s landowner, the Duchy of Lancaster.

Mr Long said Aventa Capital had approached Natural Energy Wyre in July 2015, offering to find the investment to build the barrage.

However, he said Aventa refused to provide funds weeks before a proof of investment was required by the Duchy of Lancaster.

“We had deadlines to meet with the Duchy to show investment, to keep our permission for the site, not ridiculous terms but stringent ones laid down by the Duchy,” Mr Long said.

“Of course Aventa pulling the rug from under our feet gave me less than 30 days to get together a funding package to maintain our position on the facility.

“We were disgusted, we had placed a lot of faith in them.”

Wyre director Mr Long said he had managed to find an interim funder for the project and several large pension funds were interested in investing.

Aventa said it was holding back investment on the Wyre Tidal Barrage project until a government review on tidal energy had concluded.

Former energy minister Charles Hendry is leading the review, which launched in February. It is set to conclude this autumn.

The Aventa spokesman said: “It is mistaken to say that Aventa is no longer involved in the Wyre Tidal Barrage project.

“Decisions on future Aventa investment in a Wyre Tidal Barrage scheme are dependent on the outcome of the current government review on tidal energy policy.”

The Wyre Tidal Barrage scheme no longer appears on Aventa’s website as one of its projects.

Circuit of Wales Ebbw Valley render

Circuit of Wales Ebbw Valley render

Aventa is the investment manager behind the planned £370m Circuit of Wales project (pictured) in Blaneau Gwent, which has yet to get the go-ahead by the Welsh Government.

Welsh Government secretary for economy and infrastructure Ken Skates said the current risk to the taxpayer for the project “was unacceptable” and refused to back the project.

He said a deal could not be struck until the investors could get 50 per cent of the funding needed for the scheme from the private sector.

This was the second setback for the project after an initial plan to get 100 per cent guarantee was turned down by the Welsh Government due to “significant questions around [its] viability”.

Spanish contractor FCC Construccion has been contracted to deliver the project since 2012.

An Aventa spokesman said there is no funding link between the Circuit of Wales and the Wyre Barrage scheme.

Construction News understands that Aventa has also agreed with Downham Market Development, of which it is the sole shareholder, that the developer can seek external funding for its planned £350m Centre for Advanced Knowledge Engineering in Norfolk, but has not ruled out its involvement in the longer term.

Downham Market Development Ltd was set up in 2014 to develop CfAKE. Aventa Capital chief executive Michael Carrick is the director of Downham Market Development Ltd and Aventa Capital Partners is listed as the only shareholder.

The CfAKE will be a new 13-building research and training centre for data collection and cyber security on the site of an ex-RAF site in Downham Market.

A spokesman for Downham Market Development Ltd said: “With the development of the Centre for Advanced Knowledge Engineering campus progressing well, we have established an agreement with Aventa Capital Partners that DMDL will take this project forward independently, that will include the sourcing of the external funding needed to plan and build the campus.”

No deal has yet been officially completed and discussions are ongoing between both parties.

The Downham Market Development spokesman said: “We expect this to be finalised in the next few weeks.”

“We will then concentrate on getting outline planning permission approved and the appropriate funding secured to take the project through the next stages of planning, build and marketing.”

An Aventa spokesman said: “DMDL was established as a separate legal entity to advance the development, enter into the land agreements, undertake the commercial and planning framework and manage the extensive procurement and legal negotiations for the development.

“When the project is sufficiently advanced Aventa Capital will manage the capital for the construction [but] we are not yet at that point.”

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