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 News

PEERS SLAM PLANS FOR A SEVERN BARRAGE – BAD FOR JOBS, BAD FOR WILDLIFE

16/12/08

Peers criticised plans for a Severn Barrage last night (Monday) in a high profile debate in the House of Lords.

Several Lords used the second reading of the Marine Bill as an opportunity to attack plans for a Barrage.  The Bill sets up a new Marine Management Organisation and is intended to improve marine conservation and streamline maritime planning issues.

Peers welcomed the Bill, but pointed out that the damage a Severn Barrage would bring to biodiversity and the maritime economy in the region runs contrary to the principles behind the legislation.

Lord Davies of Coity (Labour) said: “All the environmental agencies and representative bodies believe that a barrage would be an unmitigated ecological disaster.  Water quality, flooding and sewage are other very real concerns.

“The archaeological damage would be immense and the interruption to navigation on the Severn could be fatal to the ports of Bristol and Gloucester. The Government’s advisers, DTZ, have said that the barrage would threaten thousands of jobs and create an economic deficit of around £500 million.”

Lord Moran (Conservative) added: “It is odd that the Government are working in the Bill to secure the welfare of migratory fish while they are also considering the construction of the Severn barrage, which, as I pointed out when we debated that project some time ago, will probably destroy the runs of all migratory fish heading for the upper Severn, the Usk and the Wye.”

Former Environment minister Lord Whitty (Labour) said: “Although, on balance, I agree with my noble friend Lord Davies of Coity in his scepticism of the Severn barrage, I think that we need greater clarity in how we deal with such major propositions”

Lord Livsey of Talgarth (Lib Dem) added: “There is a huge conservation issue [in relation to fishing]. The noble Lord, Lord Whitty, mentioned shad; perhaps if we have a Severn barrage, they will become extinct in that area.”

According to Stop the Barrage NOW, the Lords speaking in the debate were right to express concern over the impact a Barrage would have on biodiversity and fish stocks, ports and shipping , flooding and the Estuary’s archeological heritage.  The campaign says that a Barrage will also:

  • cost at least £15 billion
  • produce energy for no more than six hours in every 24, costing twice as much as wind power and which will not come on stream until nearly 2020.

Campaigners are asking people concerned about the impact of a barrage to sign their petition to stop any further money being spent.

Instead, they are calling for further research into alternative renewable solutions in the estuary such as the possible development of tidal stream generators which can be placed safely and unobtrusively in locations where they can provide all the benefits of renewable energy without the huge cost and intrusive nature of a fixed barrage.

To view the debate please press here >>


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