Barrage debate in Lords

A SEVERN Barrage could do irreversible damage to wildlife warns an environmental leader.

A SEVERN Barrage could do irreversible damage to wildlife warns an environmental leader.

Baroness Young of Old Scone, the chief executive of the Environment Agency, said the £15billion scheme from Weston to Wales 'has some pretty big snags attached to it'.

Speaking at a debate in the House of Lords on December 13, she urged the Government to consider to full impact the scheme would have on the environment and asked it to look again at other projects for harnessing the Bristol Channel's tidal power, such as tidal lagoons.

These would have walls to allow water in and out of the structure, which would turn turbines inside.

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She said: "I hope we are not in a position where for the future we are of the belief that we cannot solve the challenge of climate change without junking other environmental resources. For me, that would be very much throwing the baby out with the bathwater."

Studies into the feasibility of the barrage estimate it could supply five per cent of the UK's energy but could take eight to 12 years to build.

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Former Weston MP Lord Cotter raised his own concerns about the economic impact the barrage would have. He said: "Although the work would create jobs, there are concerns about whether the port of Bristol, for example, would be able to operate properly with delays through locks and some ships being diverted elsewhere, with a consequent loss of business.

"However, were a roadway constructed [along the top], there could be economic benefits and that would bring pressure for development."

Wells Constituency MP David Heathcoat-Amory has this week written to the Secretary for Business Enterprise and Regulatory Reform John Hutton asking for alternative sites to be considered, such as Minehead. He said: "It is essential any study takes into account the impact on the coastal towns and villages.

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