Wildlife campaigners are celebrating the news that plans for the Severn Barrage have been scrapped following an official consultation which concluded there was ‘no strategic case’ for it.
The idea was to harness tidal energy by placing a 10-mile barrier from Weston-super-Mare to Cardiff across the Severn Estuary in the Bristol Channel at a cost of an estimated #30 billion. The aim was to power a significant number of homes in Wales.
However, the barrage, said the anti brigade, would have jeopardised an internationally significant site for sea birds. It could also have affected Wales’s salmon rivers and farmland and it would have ended the spectacular Severn Bore, the tidal wave, which is one of the world’s great natural phenomenons.
‘Harnessing the huge tidal power of the Severn has to be right, but it cannot be right to trash the natural environment in the process,’ comments Martin Harper, head of sustainable development at the RSPB.
‘The barrage proposed would not only destroy huge areas of estuary marsh and mudflats used by 69,000 birds each winter and block the migration routes of countless fish, but, as confirmed by this report, it would dramatically increase risk of flooding to residential properties.
‘The Government study needed to demonstrate that a big barrage could form a cost-effective part of a radical plan to tackle climate change. It is clear now that a barrage does not make economic sense. It’s a great shame that we have been fixated on outdated environmentally destructive technology.’
The Severn Barrage has not been completely ruled out in the future but, in the meantime, the Government has given the go-ahead to eight privately funded nuclear plants, despite some Lib-Dem discomfort. The plants are in Bradwell, Essex; Hartlepool; Heysham, Lancashire; Hinkley Point, Somerset; Oldbury, South Gloucestershire; Sellafield, Cumbria; Sizewell, Suffolk and Wylfa, Anglesey.