Severn barrage plan suffers knock back for failing to show enough benefits
he prospect of a £25billion barrage across the Severn estuary has been forced back to the drawing board after the Government said it failed to show enough benefits.
The private sector bid would have been an astonishing feat of engineering in creating an 11mile barrier using tidal flow to generate an estimated five per cent of the UK’s electrical power.
But in a move welcomed by environmental groups, the parliamentary Energy and Climate Change Committee warned the proposals by Hafren Power did not make a strong economic case and raised serious environmental concerns over the damage it could do to the estuary.
In its response to the committee’s report on the barrage plans, the Government said that “in its current form, the Hafren Power proposal for a Severn barrage does not demonstrate that it could deliver the benefits it claims it would achieve”.
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The Government backed the committee’s finding that plans did not “credibly demonstrate” sufficient mitigation of environmental concerns or damage to the local economy such as activity in ports upstream of the proposed barrage.
“Nor does it demonstrate sufficiently good value for money for the consumers,” the Government said.
It added that there were many ways to meet targets to cut carbon emissions and the focus was on technologies that could meet those goals, while protecting the environment and delivering economic benefits and value for money.
The Government said it would need much more information from Hafren before it could further consider the proposal seriously, including in-depth studies of environmental impacts and evidence to substantiate claims on the benefits.
The move was welcomed by conservation and angling groups, who have opposed a series of proposals for a Severn barrage.
Kate Jennings, from the RSPB, said: “This is fantastic news for the wildlife of the Severn, and a welcome blast of common sense from the Government.
Mark Lloyd, chief executive of the Angling Trust & Fish Legal said: “Angling, wildlife and environmental groups have been united in their call for the Severn Barrage concept to be abandoned, calling instead for a renewed focus on environmentally sound and commercially viable way to harness a variety of sources of power in the Bristol Channel.
Friends of the Earth South West campaigner Mike Birkin said: “We should be doing far more to generate power from the tides and waves, but these plans have been hugely over-hyped and threaten wildlife and our environment.”