Survey finds public unaware of proposed Severn Barrage plans

Campaign launched to lobby for alternative tidal energy schemes

A survey has found that many people in the southwest are unaware of proposals to build a tidal barrage across the Severn Estuary, with 37 per cent saying that they are totally unaware of the plans.

The vast majority of those questioned (85 per cent) were unaware that a barrage would generate power for less than six hours a day, and only a quarter believed that the extra cost of a barrage – almost ten times that of a new coal-fired power station – would be worth the expenditure.

These are the findings of an independent survey commissioned by organisations and individuals campaigning to persuade the Government to focus on alternative tidal energy schemes in the estuary.

They believe plans for a barrage across the entire estuary from the West Country to Wales should be abandoned due to the high economic and environmental impact – already highlighted in the recent report from Frontier Economics1. The campaigners are also extremely concerned that a barrage, despite its expense, would not provide a secure power supply to the region because it would only generate power for six hours a day.

Over the next few months the “Stop the Barrage Now” campaign will be lobbying to persuade the Government and the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR) that a barrage is not economically or environmentally viable. Campaigners want any form of barrage to be excluded from a shortlist of proposals to generate renewable energy from the Severn, due to be published in November.

“Very little has been done to tell the public in the southwest about the plans for a Severn Barrage, even though it would have a massive impact on the region,” explains Stuart Ballard, Chairman of Save Our Severn, which supports the Stop the Barrage Now campaign. “We want to inform the public and ensure that there is a proper debate about the consequences of building a Barrage across the Severn estuary.

“While people are generally in favour of renewable energy, they clearly believe the cost of a barrage is too high. And despite its cost, a barrage will not provide a secure power supply for the region – it will need to be supported by ‘conventional’ power stations.

“Businesses and the general public need to understand the potential impact of a barrage, and if they are concerned need to make their voices heard now, before any more taxpayers’ money is spent.

“While we totally support the need to explore and develop more sustainable forms of energy, we believe that there are more elegant ways of generating tidal power from the Severn.”

Anyone who would like more information should visit the Stop the Barrage Now website at www.stopthebarrage.com

Notes to editors
1. Research carried out by Frontier Economics on behalf of ten environmental groups, including the National Trust, the RSPB and the WWF, found that a barrage would destroy almost 86,486 acres (35,000 hectares) of highly protected wetlands. A study by the Sustainable Development Commission concluded that a barrage in the Severn Estuary would result in the loss of up to 75 per cent of the existing intertidal habitat, which is internationally protected.

2. The Government is currently carrying out a feasibility study into renewable energy possibilities in the Severn Estuary. Ten schemes are being considered, including four barrage proposals – Brean Down near Weston- super-Mare to Lavernock Point near Cardiff; Minehead to Aberthaw; and Aust to Beachley. A short list of the proposed options will be drawn up in November.

3. A barrage will generate power for only 23 per cent of the day during two irregular periods, according to the Sustainable Development Commission’s report Turning the Tide: Tidal Power in the UK, 2007.

4. The costs of a Severn barrage are currently estimated to be £20 billion. In comparison, two conventional power stations generating the same amount of power (17 terawatt hours) would cost £3 billion – 15 per cent of the cost of a barrage.

For further information please contact:
Katrina James or Debbie Smith, Stop the Barrage press office
Tel: 0117 317 8117
Email: katrina@stopthebarrage.com debbie@stopthebarrage.com

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