1. ITV Report

Opponents of Severn barrage say project is 'flawed'

The barrage would span the Severn from Lavernock Point to the Brean Peninsula. Photo: ITV News Wales

Those opposed to the building of a barrage across the Severn estuary have raised concerns as to the viability of the scheme. Bristol Port, who operate from both Avonmouth and Royal Portbury docks, claims it would mean large ships could not reach their facilities, in a move they say would damage the economy.

Sue Turner, from Bristol Port, says "We are very pro getting green power from the Severn estuary, but the barrage is unfortunately a very toxic project."

Hafren Power, the company behind the renewable energy venture, claim locks would allow ships to reach upstream of the structure and say up to 5% of the UK's energy could be produced by the £25billion investment. They estimate the barrage would produce as much energy as 3 to 4 nuclear reactors or more than 3000 wind turbines. They also claim 80% of the investment would remain in the UK and if approved it could be fully operational by 2025.

Environmental concerns have also reappeared with the chief executive of the Wildfoul and Wetlands Trust claiming the ecosystem of the area would be fundamentally changed. According to Martin Spray, 'we support any move to look at appropriate ways to bring about energy generation, but it has to be with the minimum environmental impact. We can't go on changing the environment in the way we've been doing...'

The company behind the venture say the turbines spin slowly and fish will be able to swim unharmed through the structure. They also point to the fact the bi-directional turbines will not hold back high heads of water meaning the preservation of 60% more intertidal habitat than previous schemes, thus saving the feeding and roosting grounds of wading birds.

Unite Welsh secretary Andy Richards also claims the project would provide an economic shot in the arm for South Wales as the plans set out building many of the structures in Port Talbot. 'It's not just about the construction of the barrage across the Severn, it's about the manufacturing facilities at Port Talbot, it's the steel for that from Port Talbot steelworks and the other spin-offs.'

The scheme had been ditched in 2010, following a feasibility study, but late last year Environment Minister Ed Davey hinted a barrage scheme could be given the go-ahead and the Environment and Climate Change select committee are currently looking again at the project.

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