The Stop the Barrage NOW campaign is calling on London-based civil servants and consultants to come clean over the economic impact of a Severn Barrage on the region's maritime industry and publish reports which reveal the true costs of a proposed barrage across the River Severn.

Meetings organised by the Severn Tidal Power Feasibility Study Group, a team of civil servants based in the Department of Energy and Climate Change, have been held in the South West to brief stakeholders.

At these meetings analysts from consultancy DTZ, who are carrying out an Economic Impact Assessment of different options for the Barrage, said that a Cardiff-Weston Barrage would cost thousands of jobs and hundreds of millions of pounds to the regional economy.

Ports and other maritime businesses in the south west are extremely worried about this prospect. However, neither DTZ nor the Study Group will let them comment on or even see the Economic Impact Assessment report before the Government decides the shortlist of renewable energy options which will be taken forward.

Simon Bird, Chief Executive Officer of Bristol Port Company – a member of the Stop the Barrage NOW campaign – said:

“Thousands of families in the south west rely on local ports and the maritime industry for their livelihood. A Severn Barrage would be an absolute disaster for our business and would lead to thousands of jobs being lost in the port and associated industries.

“Bristol Port Company directly employs 600 people and indirectly the port supports jobs for around 7,660 haulage workers, crane drivers, gantry operators, boatmen, tug operators and warehouse staff. This DTZ report confirms our worst fears – so why, as one of the ports concerned, can’t we contribute on it or even see it?

“We’ve already had customers and suppliers asking us about this report and the prospects for our port. If the Government cares about Bristol and the south west surviving the economic downturn, they need to make clear they are scrapping all plans for a Barrage in favour of alternative renewable technologies.”

Stop the Barrage NOW dismissed the notion that a Barrage would create jobs.  Mike Johnson, Harbourmaster of Gloucester Harbour Trustees, said:

“Building a Barrage would create some construction jobs in the short term, but these would go as soon as it was finished.

“Even if it got the go-ahead, a Barrage might not be built for many years, but the job drain could start as soon as it got the green light if shipowners began to lose confidence in the retention of access to the Severn Estuary ports. We would need much more reassurance than we have received so far that Gloucester could be assured of its survival as a commercial port behind a Barrage.

“There are greener and better alternatives for harnessing the natural power of the Severn to produce the renewable energy this country needs, which don’t wreck the local environment and the economy.”


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