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Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Caring for the Environment

At the time of the flooding of the Cardiff Bay basin I was my Party's Welsh spokesperson on the Environment. I was appalled at the damage that the barrage did to this area and in particular the impact on the numbers of Redshank and Dunlin in the Bristol Channel. The scheme at the Gwent Levels is of course a mitigation measure and does not provide an alternative habitat for these birds.

It is too late for this area, but not for the Severn Estuary. That is why Rhodri Morgan needs to get out of the mindset that the only way to harvest electricity out of the huge tidal range in the River Severn is to build a 10 mile concrete wall with a road across it. Such a course of action will completely undermine the Assembly's commitment to sustainability. It would have a devastating effect on local wildlife and the environment by destroying one of the UK's most important inter-tidal environments, providing food for more than 50,000 waterfowl.

The First Minister is quoted as saying that the destruction of feeding grounds for birds is the "lesser of two evils" compared with the perils of greenhouse gases created by burning fossil fuels. If this was the choice facing us then he may be right, but it is not. It would be perfectly possible to generate as much electricity by building a series of tidal lagoons. They would not have as big an impact on the local wildlife and would be far more sustainable in every way.

Let us hope that Rhodri finds a new scriptwriter and new advisors before he commits us to a project that would be an even bigger mistake than the Cardiff Bay Barrage.
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