Barrage lifeline for Birnbeck island?

PUBLISHED: 06:10 20 July 2006 | UPDATED: 09:37 24 May 2010

The proposed barrage location between Somerset and Wales.

The proposed barrage location between Somerset and Wales.

A MAJOR Government report has given plans to build a barrage from Weston to Wales a huge boost. Proposals to build a River Severn barrage, potentially from Brean Down to Lavernock Point in Wales, were backed by the Department of Trade and Industry's energ

A MAJOR Government report has given plans to build a barrage from Weston to Wales a huge boost.Proposals to build a River Severn barrage, potentially from Brean Down to Lavernock Point in Wales, were backed by the Department of Trade and Industry's energy review, revealed this week.The review urged for a detailed study to take place into the possibility of a barrage being built to produce renewable energy. But the review also warned there were 'strong environmental concerns'.The long-awaited review says the barrage could provide five per cent of Britain's electricity by 2020 and would cost around £14billion to build.Several groups have come up with proposals to build a barrage across the river, including Welsh businessman Gareth Woodham and the Severn Tidal Power Group (STPG), a consortium of businesses headed by Balfour Beatty.Mr Woodham hopes to build a 1km wide barrage including 12 'islands' with plush housing and even a dual carriageway. He has already submitted a planning application to Sedgemoor District Council which has been referred to the Government.The STPG's barrage would catch water passing through sluices as the tide rises and hold it back as the tide flows out again. It would then release the water through turbines to generate electricity.There are also hopes the barrage could help save Birnbeck Pier by linking up to Birnbeck Island.Mike Davies, executive member of the National Piers Society, said: "If we could have a barrage come in somewhere near Birnbeck it could mean saving the pier."In an ideal world I would hope the barrage would come directly into Birnbeck Island. It could be that the island is an off-shoot of the barrage."The Government's energy review says: "During the course of consultation we have received a range of views on tidal generation, in particular on the plans for a Severn barrage, which could provide around five per cent of current UK electricity demand by 2020. "This could cost in the region of £14billion. It is clear that, while attractive in terms of electricity generation and associated benefits, plans for a Severn barrage would raise strong environmental concerns."We are, however, interested in improving our understanding of how to make best use of the potential tidal resource in UK waters."Together with the Welsh Assembly government, we will therefore work with the Sustainable Development Commission, the South West Regional Development Agency and other key interested parties to explore the issues arising on the tidal resource in the UK, including the Severn Estuary.

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