Wye and Usk Foundation and the Severn Barrage
The Wye and Usk Foundation has spent the last ten or more years working to restore the habitats and fisheries of the rivers Wye and Usk, spending with our partners Environment Agency Wales and the Countryside Council for Wales in excess of £6million. We anticipate spending further large sums to complete the restoration of our salmon runs and protect the indigenous and migratory species of fish.
The proposed Severn barrage poses the almost certain risk of annihilation of all the fish that ascend our rivers – salmon, eel, Allis and Twaite shad, lamprey and sea trout, as has been witnessed on the eastern seaboard of America following hydroelectric schemes there. The Usk, Wye and Severn Estuary are designated under the EU Habitats Directive for the specific purpose of providing an inflexible conservation shield: the rivers draining into the Estuary comprise 25% of the entire salmon habitat of England and Wales and nearly all that available for the two shad species.
We fully appreciate the need to generate “low carbon” electricity and provide replacements for the UK’s ageing power systems. We are not persuaded that the proposals likely to be put forward for using tidal power in the Severn Estuary fulfil the requirements on grounds of feasibility, technicality and economics. But above all, the environmental costs will be too great.
There are many alternatives and the suggestion that this massive engineering project could double as a means of kick starting a beleaguered economy falls short in our view of a proper way of managing the country’s infrastructure, economic future and addressing the central issues of climate change.
We therefore fully support the “Stop the Barrage NOW” Campaign.