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UK Environmental news

Monday 20th July 2009
Severn Tidal Barrage at Forefront of Government Green Energy Plans

The Government last week, announced sweeping plans to meet the promised 34% cut in carbon emissions by 2020 and the energy sector is expected to facilitate a large proportion of those reductions. One central feature of those plans is the controversial Severn Barrage project.

The proposal is to build an enormous barrage across the River Severn between Cardiff and Weston. The barrage would harness tidal power and generate up to 8.6 gigawatts of carbon neutral electricity.

This massive project has been hailed by supporters as an environmentally friendly solution to Britain's growing energy needs. They claim the project would repay the carbon footprint of its construction within a year and provide reliable green electricity for the proposed 120 years of the projects life.

The project, if given the go-ahead, would be the largest of its kind in Europe and would lower Britain's dependency on foreign gas and oil by providing 5% of the UK's energy needs.

However it is the local environment that will suffer the most. The barrage would permanently flood up to 86,000 acres of protected wetlands and destroy important Severn fisheries. The loss of wildlife habitats could be catastrophic for many endangered bird species. Environmental groups including the National Trust, the RSPB and the WWF have all voiced their concerns over the project.

The Severn Estuary is listed as a Special Area of Conservation by the European Commission due to the large number of migratory birds and fish that rely on the feeding grounds in the area. These populations are likely to be severely effected if the size of the feeding grounds is reduced by the barrage, and competition for existing food increases.

The debate is likely to become more intense as the Government holds a second round of public consultations scheduled for early 2010.

Links:
Severn Estuary Partnership
Severn Tidal Power Consultation
WWF UK

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