Severn tidal shortlist down to five

Large-scale tidal barrages dominate the shortlist of projects that might one day harness the power of the River Severn's enormous tidal range.

As reported by edie earlier in the week Government has been looking at possible schemes and had whittled the list down to ten options.

On Monday Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Miliband announced that that list was now down to five.

Three of the options are tidal barrages, at different points on the estuary, while the remaining two are tidal lagoons which would draw power from a section of the river without a dam spanning the estaury from shore to shore.

Some of the ten long-listed schemes that did not make the shortlist are to share £500,000 of Government funding to develop ’embryonic technologies’.

Areas to benefit include tidal fences and reefs.

Environmental groups have not been impressed by the choice of shortlisted projects, with the Green Party and Friends of the Earth both calling for the proposals for barrages to be scrapped due to the unavoidable impact schemes of this kind would have.

The proposed shortlist is as follows:

  • Cardiff to Weston Barrage: A barrage crossing the Severn estuary from Brean Down, near Weston super Mare to Lavernock Point, near Cardiff.

    Its estimated capacity is over 8.6 Gigawatts – twice that of the UK’s largest fossil fuel power plant – and it could generate nearly 5% of UK electricity.
  • Shoots Barrage: Further upstream of the Cardiff Weston scheme.

    Capacity of 1.05GW, similar to a large fossil fuel plant.
  • Beachley Barrage: The smallest barrage on the proposed shortlist, just above the Wye River. It could generate 625MW.
  • Bridgwater Bay Lagoon: Lagoons are radical new proposals which impound a section of the estuary without damming it. This scheme is sited on the English shore between east of Hinkley Point and Weston super Mare. It could generate 1.36GW.
  • Fleming Lagoon: An impoundment on the Welsh shore of the estuary between Newport and the Severn road crossings. It too could generate 1.36GW.
  • Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Miliband said:

    “Fighting climate change is the biggest long term challenge we face and we must look to use the UK’s own natural resources to generate clean, green electricity.

    “The Severn estuary has massive potential to help achieve our climate change and renewable energy targets. We want to see how that potential compares against the other options for meeting our goals.

    “The largest proposal to harness the power of the tides on the shortlist could save as much carbon dioxide as all the residential emissions from Wales.

    “The five schemes shortlisted today are what we believe can be feasible, but this doesn’t mean we have lost sight of others. Half a million pounds of new funding will go some way to developing technologies still in their infancy, like tidal reef and fences. We will consider the progress of this work before any final decisions are taken.

    “We have tough choices to make. Failing to act on climate change could see catastrophic effects on the environment and its wildlife, but the estuary itself is a protected environment, home to vulnerable species including birds and fish.

    “We need to think about how to balance the value of this unique natural environment against the long-term threat of global climate change. It is vital we seek public views and collect all information we need to make sure our climate change actions are ambitious yet fair.”

    Sam Bond

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