From the TUC

Save Severn Tidal Energy

19 Oct 2010, by in Environment

So the greenest government ever has bottled out of the Severn Barrage, potentially the UK’s biggest renewable project. What a negative way to announce this. The big Cardiff to Weston Barrage may not be the best option and too expensive but we must find a way to harness the power of the Severn tides. And we can’t delay in exploring all the options.

Lots of work has been done in starting to figure out the impact on the birds and marine life, the sediment, the port and the economy. Trade unions have their concerns about a bloody big dam but the work has drawn out alternative ways to generate power from the second highest tidal range in the world. This should not be put on hold for the next decade while we build new nuclear and gas stations.

Any of the ideas would create thousands of jobs in construction and some seem to offer less damage to the estuary environment.

As the previous Government’s Renewable Energy Strategy commented:

The tides of the Severn Estuary (up to 14 metres) are among the highest in the world. The potential of Severn tidal power is being investigated through the cross-Government Severn Tidal Power Feasibility Study. The study is considering a number of possible scheme options to generate electricity from the tides of the Estuary, ranging from a £21 billion barrage between Cardiff and Weston-super-Mare that could produce 5% of UK electricity, to a £2.3 billion 625 MW option supplying around 1% of electricity.

Yet the new government has not even bothered to summon the wide range of partners in Wales and the South West who have been meeting to consider the ideas. Business groups in South Wales have described the Government’s decision to axe plans for a tidal barrage in the Severn Estuary as a huge blow to the economy.

Without such coordination and broad support how can we give confidence to potential investors and developers? How will we coordinate the other renewable energy initiatives in the Bristol Channel such as the Atlantic Array wind farm that needs new port facilities if local jobs are to be created or the wave hub who’s main sponsor (the South West RDA is being abolished).

Perhaps we shouldn’t worry too much that the Local Enterprise Partnerships that will partly replace RDAs won’t have a statutory obligation to promote sustainable development as RDAs do. The process of setting them up is such a mess and most of the Severn Estuary looks set to be a LEP-free zone. Let’s not lecture the Chinese over their need to develop low carbon energy when we fail to make the most of our own natural power sources.

3 Responses to Save Severn Tidal Energy

  1. Tweets that mention Save Severn Tidal Energy | ToUChstone blog: A public policy blog from the TUC —
    Oct 19th 2010, 6:47 pm

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by ToUChstone blog, Craig Peters. Craig Peters said: RT @touchstoneblog: Save Severn Tidal Energy […]

  2. Sven Rufus
    Oct 19th 2010, 7:43 pm

    I am actually quite pleased with the decision to ditch the barrage scheme, albeit appalled by the flip-side lurch nuclear. I have long been opposed to the barrage scheme as the ecological negatives are so huge, it outweighs the good it could do. Dependence on such big ticket engineering schemes is also a symptom of the problem, that we think we can just solve problems by ‘doing something, usually something with bbig impacts like this, rather than making other changes to our lifestyles so we moderate demand, either through increased efficiency, or just not buying and wasting so much crap for example. Other renewables schemes on a smaller local scale such as micro-generation investment create more jobs, are quicker to get on stream and offer more resilience to single site big generation projects too. But just for a moment lets assume that none of those other approaches can be upheld, there is a better alternative for how to use the Severn for energy generation, which has less ecological impact, is quicker, cheaper and generates more energy – Tidal Lagoons. The barrage has one big attraction for the funders compared to lagoons – it can provide a new road link across the river which lagoons don’t. Not so green, really.

  3. Natasha Tolson
    Oct 25th 2010, 3:43 pm

    Thank you. Have been working as an electrician for a little while now so this post is very.