Barrage alternatives put forward

PUBLISHED: 12:30 27 November 2012

NEW proposals have been put forward as to how energy can be harnessed in the Severn estuary without the need to build a Weston to Cardiff barrage.

For years, the idea of creating a barrage from Brean Down to Lavernock Point has been mooted and, for years, huge concerns have been raised about the environmental and economic impacts it could have on the surrounding area.

Yesterday (Mon), sustainable energy experts Regen South West released a report into how the estuary’s energy could be harnessed, which concluded there are other ways of doing this without creating a large-scale barrage.

The document, entitled Bristol Channel Energy: A Balanced Technology Approach, proposes a multi-technology scheme featuring tidal lagoons, tidal fences as well as wave and wind power technologies, which would protect the environment and communities on both the Welsh and English sides of the channel.

The proposals have been welcomed by the RSPB, which has major concerns about how a barrage could affect bird populations in the estuary.

It has also been welcomed by North Somerset MP Dr Liam Fox who on Friday launched a campaign to block the building of barrage.

He fears the lower water levels which would be created upstream of the barrage could threaten the ability of Bristol Port to accept large cargo ships, therefore threatening thousands of people’s jobs.

Dr Fox said: “I endorse fully the report’s conclusion on the need to develop a balanced approach to harnessing the energy production opportunities in the Bristol Channel and Severn Estuary. There would appear to be many fantastic technologies in development that could harness this potential without the environmental or economic threats posed by the Cardiff-Weston Barrage.”

Having been rejected as a strategic option by the Government as recently as 2010, the question of whether to support a large scale barrage in the Bristol Channel will once again be reviewed by the Energy and Climate Change Parliamentary Select Committee in the new year.

The report authors hope the renewed focus on the Bristol Channel as an energy resource will lead to a wider review to look at all potential technologies.

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