Dead in the water

Wednesday 18th September 2013

Atlantic Salmon cpt Karl FranzAtlantic Salmon cpt Karl Franz

Environmental groups have today welcomed the announcement from Government that effectively puts a stop to plans to build a barrage across the Severn Estuary.

Joan Edwards, Head of Living Seas at The Wildlife Trusts explains:

The Wildlife Trusts attach great value to the Severn Estuary for its international importance for wildlife, and for the economic and social benefits that this provides.  We also regard climate change as the greatest medium to longā€term threat to biodiversity and therefore  acknowledge that the Severn  Estuary should be considered for appropriate renewable energy generation. We are extremely pleased that the government agrees with us that a traditional barrage is not the right technology for the Severn and does not support Hafrens current proposals.”

We are extremely pleased that the government agrees with us that a traditional barrage is not the right technology for the Severn

Kate Jennings, from the RSPB, said: “Once again, plans to build a Severn barrage have been effectively dismissed, described as ‘hypothetical’ and failing to demonstrate either effective mitigation of environmental impacts or value for money. This is fantastic news for the wildlife of the Severn, and a welcome blast of common sense from the Government. 

Conservationists have been warning for years that this poorly thought through project would devastate the ecosystem of this estuary, but it has somehow managed to stay on the table.

It’s disappointing that Government has failed to more explicitly rule-out any further consideration of damaging barrage technology, but let’s hope this is the final nail in the coffin for this outdated and discredited technology which has held back the development of innovative, clean, green tidal power schemes. This barrage has been a diversion from the real task of finding innovative ways of generating clean electricity whilst safeguarding the precious wildlife of the estuary.”

Mark Lloyd, Chief Executive of the Angling Trust and 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. We now welcome the Government’s recognition that the proposals put forward by Hafren Power were utterly inadequate. The Select Committee Inquiry clearly exposed the numerous unsubstantiated claims regarding the supposed economic and environmental benefits for the barrage and the massive threats to migratory fish and birds inherent in a scheme of this size."

Jonathan White, Chairman of Trustees, Severn Rivers Trust said: "The Severn Rivers Trust welcomes the Government's  rejection of Hafren Power's proposal to build a barrage across the Severn Estuary. Wherever in the world tidal barrages have been tried, they have been associated with huge environmental damage and adverse impact on wildlife. We hope the Government’s condemnation of yet another barrage means that the Severn Estuary will now be spared this fate. This should open the way for consideration of alternative, less environmentally damaging approaches to harnessing the renewable energy potential of the Severn."

Janina Gray, from the Salmon & Trout Association, said: “Today we welcome the Governments response to Halfren Power's proposal to build a Severn barrage and hope now we can finally put the idea of a full barrage to bed once and for all. The Severn estuary itself is a vital resource to the UK, providing important habitat for fish and birds and functioning as gateway for migratory fish to internationally significant rivers such as the Wye and Usk. We must now move forward and focus on developing new ways to generate energy in the estuary without destroying its wildlife, like a full barrier would have done".

Martin Spray, Chief Executive of WWT said: “We can now stop wasting public money on assessing outdated barrage designs and instead start looking at innovative, scalable technology that will maximise power while minimising impact. I would love to see the Severn Estuary community bringing together inventors and investors to develop and export new tidal power ideas that tackle climate change without destroying our natural heritage.”

Stephen Marsh-Smith of The Wye and Usk Foundation said: “Enormous relief will be felt by those with concerns for fish and wildlife in the Severn estuary following the Government’s negative response to Hafren Power’s proposals for a Barrage. We are particularly delighted to note that Government would uphold the requirements of both the Habitats and Water Framework Directives in any proposed barrage scheme. A great day for conservation.



Editors Notes:
A coalition of environment NGOs (Angling Trust, CPRE, MCS, RSPB, Salmon and Trout Association, Severn Rivers Trust, The Wildlife Trusts, The Wye and Usk Foundation, WWF, Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust has long opposed damaging barrage proposals and has joined with others including the ports industry and RegenSW in supporting an alternative approach which seeks to extract clean green energy in ways which minimise damage to the estuary and its internationally important wildlife.  The environment NGOs submitted evidence to the Energy and Climate Change Select Committee’s Inquiry in to the latest Severn Barrage proposals (see pp 155 - 156)

Tagged with: Living Seas