Barrage debate

CAMPAIGNERS are calling for an alternative site for the Severn Barrage, after a heated debate in Burnham.

CAMPAIGNERS are calling for an alternative site for the Severn Barrage, after a heated debate in Burnham.

Patrick Stokes, Burnham and Somerset Levels Sea Flood Study Group chairman, suggested building the proposed barrage from Minehead to south Wales, instead of the more popular route of Brean, near Weston to Lavernock Point.

Mr Stokes said the barrage would cover a greater area if built from Minehead and could therefore produce more energy.

Speaking at a special Burnham Chamber of Trade meeting on Thursday, Mr Stokes said: "The barrage is expected to cost around £17billion and would be about 4km longer than the Brean to Wales route.

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"Extra water passing through the barrage would generate considerably more power. To put it simply, the route from Brean to Wales is wrong."

Mr Stokes and his group were joined by Gareth Woodham, the Welsh entrepreneur behind the Severn Lake Project.

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He gave opposing views, backed the Brean to Wales route, and said the barrage could have built-in viewing rooms for tourists to watch fish and boats passing through the gates.

Mr Woodham's proposals include building 200 hydro-electric turbines, two wave farms, two lock gate shipping channels for boats to pass through and a lifeboat station.

The construction of the Severn Barrage took another step forward this week as the Government launched a feasibility study into the project. The study is expected to last two years and will include a public consultation in 2010.

It could produce five per cent of UK energy and could be up and running as early as 2020.

ITV is currently looking for people interested in the Severn Barrage to take part in a debate on The West This Week. The show will go out on January 31. Anyone interested in being in the studio audience to join in the debate can call 0844 8812325.

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