Several Lords again used a debate in the House of Lords on the Government’s Marine & Coastal Access Bill to criticise plans for a Severn Barrage last night (Wednesday).

Peers used the Committee Stage of the Marine Bill as an opportunity to attack the Barrage plans. The Bill sets up a new Marine Management Organisation (MMO) and is intended to improve marine conservation and streamline maritime planning issues.

Labour peer Lord Davies of Coity proposed an amendment that called for the new MMO to be able to veto any big projects which would damage the marine environment.

He used the example of Severn Barrage as just such a scheme which the Marine Bill and the MMO was set up to stop.

Lord Davies said: “There is a wealth of evidence from expert national and international environmental organisations, such as the RSPB and the WWF, clearly indicating that a barrage across the Severn estuary would result in damage to the marine environment that would be nothing short of catastrophic. Such damage would be permanent, as the marine environment would never, ever recover.

”If the Government proceed with a Severn barrage, the measures that are in place to mitigate the environmental impact cannot possibly be honoured. For example, more than 2,000 square hectares of alternative wetlands would have to be found to compensate for the area lost to the project. Where do the Government think they are going to find that extent of wetland?”

Lord Crickhowell (Conservative) said: “I am tempted to follow the noble Lord, Lord Davies of Coity, down the route of debating the Severn barrage. I will be one of those who will fight as hard as it is possible to fight in this House against a project that I believe will have catastrophic environmental consequences.”

Lord Tyler (Lib Dem) added: “There may be options for renewable energy generation that are nothing like as damaging as the barrage. The barrage seems the least attractive proposition for the Government.”

Lord Greenway (Crossbench) agreed with Stop the Barrage Now that it was important to consider alternatives to the Barrage which would generate green electricity without damaging our marine heritage.

He said: “We must not necessarily think of a fixed barrage. There are all sorts of different ways we can cover this. I think we all agree that there is a huge amount of potential energy in the massive tides that flow in and out of the Bristol Channel every day. For instance, in the shallower parts we could have normal wind farms and in some of the deeper parts, excluding the shipping channels, inverted windmills that operate under water. There are many different ways to look at this.”

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 archaeological 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. They are calling for a Barrage to be ruled out when the Government announces a shortlist of options for generating power in the Severn in the near future.

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.

About Stop the Barrage NOW
Stop the Barrage NOW is a coalition of organisations and individuals campaigning to persuade the Government to focus on alternative tidal energy schemes in the estuary. Over the next few months the 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.

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

For further information please contact:
Katrina James or Debbie Smith, Stop the Barrage press office
Tel: 0117 317 8117 or 07843087861(Katrina) 07778790015 (Debbie)
Email: katrina@stopthebarrage.com debbie@stopthebarrage.com

What Can You Do?

• Sign the petition

• Write to your local MP

• Lobby your local   Councillor