Select Committee on Science and Technology Fourth Report

Severn Barrage

137. The Severn Tidal Power Group was formed in 1984 to assess the potential of building a tidal barrage to generate electricity. The tides in the Severn Estuary have the second highest range in the world and the Group estimates that it could supply 6% of the current electricity demand of England and Wales.[236] The project stalled following privatisation of the industry and has faced objections from environmentalists because of disruptions to wildlife habitats.[237] In February 2002 the Group submitted a "Definition Study" to determine whether re-appraisal of the Barrage was justified, with the not unsurprising conclusion in the Energy White Paper that it was.[238] We are not in a position to form a judgement on this project, except to say that there is plenty of scope for installing renewable energy generation with little or no environmental impact and that these should be given priority. We agree with the Government's conclusion that "plans for a Severn Barrage would raise strong environmental concerns and we doubt if it would be fruitful to pursue it at this stage. Tidal barrages may be capable of offering major renewable projects which will help us reach our goals and we will continue to explore opportunities".[239]

138. Wave and tidal energy has enormous potential and can deliver a clean and predictable energy supply. We recommend that the UK should make a major investment in this niche market and aim to generate at least 5% of its electricity using wave and tidal technologies by 2020.

236   Unprinted memorandum from the Severn Tidal Power Group. Back

237   Friends of the Earth press release, 11 February 2002 Back

238   The Severn Barrage-Definition Study for a New Appraisal of the Project. Final Report: January 2002 ETSU Report No. T/09/00212/00/rep Back

239   DTI, Our energy future-creating a low carbon future, Cm 5761, February 2003, para 4.54 Back

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