Developer says Barrage will still be built

PUBLISHED: 09:00 19 October 2010 | UPDATED: 09:42 19 October 2010

A map of the proposed Severn Lake Tidal Power Group project

A map of the proposed Severn Lake Tidal Power Group project

Archant

THERE has been a mixed reception to the news that the controversial Severn Barrage project has been scrapped by the Government.

THERE has been a mixed reception to the news that the controversial Severn Barrage project has been scrapped by the Government.

The news has led wildlife campaigners to celebrate following their long-standing opposition, while the barrage’s supporters have been left dismayed by the decision.

But one major property developer has described the decision as ‘good news’, as it will allow his consortium to step up their own bid.

Secretary of State for Energy Chris Huhne announced on Monday following the release of a feasibility report that public money would not be used to fund the proposed barrage, which would have stretched between Brean Down and Cardiff.

Welsh property developer Gareth Woodham, of the Severn Lake Tidal Power Group says the Government’s decision to back out has left the door open for his consortium to step in with a more ambitious plan.

“It’s good news for us as it now means that we can move forward with our own bid. To be honest I’d been hoping that the Government would move out of the way.

“We’ve got no issues with many of the elements of the project, so now we can move on and start our own bid properly. And it would be far more than what the original plan promised. We’ll be selling ice cream as well.”

The consortium intends to develop a ‘sea bus’ route along the proposed 10-mile stretch between Brean Down and Cardiff, and other plans include the building of a visitor centre to tell the story of the project.

He added: “I’ve been surprised by the figures I’ve been hearing quoted. We haven’t got any major issues to deal with ahead of moving forward here, and in our estimations we would say it would cost around £14billion.”

Weston Town Councillor Peter Bryant, who hosted a meeting on the implications of the barrage two weeks ago, thinks the decision will be a negative one for North Somerset.

He said: “There are three main issues here. Firstly, there’s the amount of energy it would have produced. Then there’s the area for watersports and recreation that would have been created behind the barrage, which would have also been protected from future flooding.

“And finally in the meantime there would have been the employment when it was being built, which could have created up to 20,000 jobs. In austere times such as the ones we have coming up, it could have given a lot to the region.”

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