'Serious concerns' for Severn Barrage scheme

PUBLISHED: 07:00 10 June 2013

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A POWER firm has 'failed to answer serious environmental concerns' in its bid to build a £25billion tidal barrage across the Severn Estuary, according to a Government committee.

Hafren Power plans to construct an 18km barrage from Brean Down to Lavernock Point in Wales which it says will provide enough electricity from its 1,026 turbines to power 5 per cent of British homes and would create more than 20,000 jobs.

A report published by the Government’s Energy and Climate Change Committee says it ‘cannot recommend’ the scheme in its current guise and has suggested a smaller impact scheme, such as a tidal lagoon, would be a better option.

But Hafren Power’s chief executive Tony Pryor has slammed the report’s findings and says it is ‘unhelpful and frustrating’.

MP Tim Yeo, chairman of the Energy and Climate Change Committee, said: “It became clear during the course of this inquiry that more detailed, robust evidence about Hafren Power’s proposal and claims is needed.

“Our inquiry has brought more information into the public domain and furthered the debate, but we cannot recommend the Hafren Power scheme as currently presented to us.

“We are not convinced that the economic case for the proposed barrage is strong enough.

“Hafren Power’s proposal is likely to require a very high level of support over many years through Contracts for Difference.

“We do not believe at this stage that the barrage would be competitive with other low-carbon technologies.

Hafren Power have failed to answer the serious environmental concerns about a potential barrage adequately.

“Far more detail and evidence is needed before their project could be regarded as environmentally acceptable.”

The report stated: “We conclude that a more incremental approach using alternative technologies (such as tidal lagoons) may have a potential to provide a lower-risk, lower-impact option than the Hafren Power barrage scheme.

“Crucially, Hafren Power has failed to demonstrate that the project could offer value for money for the consumer in line with other low-carbon energy sources such as nuclear and off-shore wind.”

Hafren Power chief executive Tony Pryor said: “The report is unhelpful and frustrating – we all know we have a lot more work to do and we will do it.

“The Government has already told us it is not against the barrage and we are determined to press ministers and officials to engage fully.

“We believe the environmental and economic issues can be solved with everyone working together.

“Unlike smaller schemes, only a barrage can harness the full power potential of the estuary and do it economically.

“It will also be much cheaper and last much longer than offshore wind farms which have high levels of public subsidy.”

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