News and views from north Bristol's urban village

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Severn Barage Scrapped

Brean and Steep Holm, seen from the beach at B...Image via Wikipedia

So, the controversial Severn Barrage, which would have supplied nearly 5% of the country's electricity, is to be scrapped, according to a report today via the BBC new site.

Secretary of State for Energy Chris Huhne is believed to have decided to cancel the project because of its high construction cost - around £20 billion - and will instead signal that nuclear power will receive more support in attempts to reduce dependence on fossil fuels. Locally, this will see increased work carried out at Oldbury and Sizewell B nuclear power stations in the coming years.

The planned barrage would have linked Brean Down near Weston Super Mare with Lavernock Point near Cardiff, using tidal range technology. As previously reported on Trym Tales, this approach involves creating a barrier which is effectively a hydroelectric dam. The incoming tide is allowed to pass through the barrier and then held back behind it as the tide recedes. At or around low tide, the waters behind the barrage are released in a controlled way and passed through a series of turbines, generating electricity.

The proposed Barrage was one of ten initial proposals for generating tidal energy from the River Severn - later reduced to five. The tidal range in the Severn is approximately 14 metres, making the estuary one of the prime candidates on the planet for the large-scale introduction of this form of renewable technology. Studies into the feasibility of tidal energy technologies have also been carried out around Orkney.

The loss of upstream habitat on the Severn was one of the reasons that the planned barrage was opposed by some local environmentalists. Northavon MP Steve Webb was one of a number of local MP's and Welsh Assembly members who were opposed to the Barrage, advocating instead a smaller barrage close to the Severn Bridge Crossing.

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