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 News

Barrage not worth job losses or environmental damage,
say southwest public

20/10/08

The vast majority of people in the south west do not want a Severn barrage if it means losing marine jobs or reducing the habitat available for birds and other wildlife, according to a recent independent survey carried out for the Stop the Barrage NOW campaign.

Only a quarter of those surveyed believe that their views have been taken into account in drawing up plans for the scheme which, if it goes ahead, would have a massive economic and environmental impact on the region.

Stop the Barrage NOW is drawing attention to these findings in advance of the ‘Bristol Energy Question Time’ debate on 23 October, organised by the Stop Climate Change Coalition and sponsored by the RSPB1. This debate provides an opportunity for members of the public to submit questions on energy related issues to an expert panel, including two local MPs.

Eighty-two per cent of those questioned said that they do not want a Barrage if it results in job losses, with even more (almost 90 per cent) saying a Barrage is unacceptable if it would have a negative effect on the local economy. Eighty per cent said that they do not want a barrage if it means reduced habitat for birds and other wildlife in the estuary.

There was less concern about possible changes to the appearance of the coastline as a tourist attraction – just over half of respondents saw this as a key concern.

However Jonathan Porritt, eminent environmental advisor and until recently Chairman of the Government’s Sustainable Development Commission, is adamant sacrifices must be made to address climate change.

Speaking on the BBC Wales production Week In Week Out last week, he said: “I am fairly astonished that so many of my colleagues in the environmental movement still don’t seem to understand the scale and the threat of climate change. For me that takes priority over everything else, and if we’re going to address that challenge, if we’re going to do something about those threats then we’re going to have to do some very big and very bold things here in the UK. And for me, one of these things is to get the Severn Barrage built.”
 
The Stop the Barrage campaign believes that we do have a choice – to find alternative tidal energy sources, which will not mean sacrificing the unique environment and economic lifeblood of the three million people living in and around the Severn Estuary.

“Local residents have not been consulted at all about plans for the barrage – consultants appointed by the Government are working on the feasibility study in isolation, looking solely at how the Severn’s tides might help the UK to meet its renewable energy targets,” says Stuart Ballard of Stop the Barrage NOW.

“Jonathan Porritt is suggesting that this should be done despite the economic and environmental impact on the estuary and the surrounding area.

“We totally support the need to explore and develop more sustainable forms of energy, but believe there are other ways of generating tidal power from the Severn that will not mean the loss of hundreds of jobs and cause irreparable damage to our economy or to wildlife, as well as costing billions of pounds.”

“Before any more taxpayers’ money is spent, politicians need to take a good look at all the facts, consider the views of their constituents and decide whether the results will justify the costs.”

For further information please contact:
Katrina James or Debbie Smith, Stop the Barrage press office
Tel: 0117 317 8117 or 07843 087 861(Katrina) 07778790015 (Debbie)
Email: katrina@stopthebarrage.com debbie@stopthebarrage.com

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