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Monday, October 01, 2007

Severn Barrage

The fight to get a barrage built across the Severn estuary took off in earnest today with a report from the Sustainable Development Commission backing the idea, but warning about the excessive costs. In my view the case for this barrage is very finely balanced, but whatever one's view the issue needs to be resolved quickly so that we can move on with the agenda on sustainable energy.

Against the barrage are a range of environmental groups who are concerned at its impact on the ecological infrastructure of the estuary. They are arguing in favour of tidal lagoons, which they say will cause far less environmental damage. There are also question marks over the size of the carbon footprint that will be created by a fifteen year construction project, not to mention the impact it will have on neighbouring communities. Those who are supporting the barrage need to be able to justify the £15 billion investment and an assessment needs to be made as to whether that money can be used differently to secure the same outcome.

In the barrage's favour is its simplicity as an idea. It is a clear way forward, using tested technology that will be guaranteed to produce the desired outcomes. It will create employment and will provide a new and permanent link between both sides of the Severn Estuary. The Wales Office says it could create 40,000 jobs. I heard Peter Hain on the radio this morning arguing that lagoons could prove to be a navigation hazard. We will see.

The detailed feasibility study needs to look at all of these factors and more. It should not delay a decision any longer than is necessary. In the meantime some investment in tidal lagoons so as to demonstrate their efficacy would be welcome. We should start with the proposed lagoon in Swansea Bay. At least then the government could not be accused of putting all its renewable eggs into the wind power basket.
A navigation hazard?! What an odd thing to say. Anything in the sea might be a navigation hazard if you don't know it's there. A great big wall enclosing a tidal lagoon is as much a hazard as the shoreline, or a barrage.

Sounds like scraping the barrel for objections to me.

If some of the claims made for lagoons are correct, we can do better than a barrage. It's got to be worth trying.
Any sailor daft enough to hit a clearly charted and lit tidal lagoon needs taking out of the gene pool anyway.

As for the inverts (and I am a lover thereof - not physical, I hasten to add) and birds they can migrate and new mudflats will be created.
Will this mean the end of the Severn bore?
As always 'Wind Power' has to have mention. When will one single politician of any party give us FACTS and true figures about the weeny teeny bit of power that these useless Wind Turbine triffids produce. Come on lets have facts and figures. TODAY WAS A GIANT STEP FORWARD IN THE ENERGY DISCUSSION. Environmental issues apart, the SEVERN BARRAGE would really produce ENORMOUS amounts of electrical energy. For the first time in my Bus Pass ravaged life I find myself choking to realise that for once I agree with that Teflon Coated Creep - the modern Peter Hain. Well I might as well say it "Bravo, Peter Hain at last today 1-10-2007 you're talking some real sensible talk about the SEVERN BARRAGE after all those long years of forked tongued two facedness, since you abandoned the honourable things you once stood for in your youth".
I expect that the NIMBYs will be out in force, as ever, but the barrage has to be worth a shot. I'm sure that genuine environmental concerns will be dealt with appropriately.

Is there still to be a rail route across to Somerset, do you know?
I know RSPB and FOE are up in arms but if/when climate change kicks in the 2+ deg C rise is going to harm wildlife ecosystems a damn sight more. Already seeing problems in the seabird systems I understand due to food chain reducing due to sea temperature rises.
The point they make about gesture politics - building the barrage / and windfarms but not tacking consumption is entirely valid though.
Will this mean the end of the Severn bore?

No, Peter will continue blogging.
You are confused. I am the Swansea bore.
I really hope that it happens
It is non chemical natural power.
It will also be quite a tourist attraction
Why do people jump up and down all the time , I bet they are not even resident here for the most part.
It's insanity. I can't believe the cynicism of some of the politicians who seem to be trying to promote it as a flood defence. Flooding in the area comes almost exclusively from rainwater in the river system , and the barrage will hold it in. In July,Gloucester was within 2 inches of having the floodwaters blow the electricity supply for the whole city, and that damage would have takken around 2 months to set right.

So, if this thing gets built, people in the Severn Valley will basically be subjected to much more catastrophic floods on a much more regular basis. I've never heard of any dam (which is what this is) that eases threats of flooding upstream.. the whole point of it is that it only works by holding water in! That would also mean that floods will last longer..oh whoopee.

The tide should certainly be tapped for it's power, but this is the wrong option, and I'm not talking about environmental issues or any form of nimbyism. There are many houses which are simply too close to the river which are already having millions spent on flood defences to protect them. I live what is currently a safe distance away. I wonder if it will still be safe in the future?

It will only generate power on the outgoing tide. It's a peculiarity of the area that this is nearly always during quieter periods for the grid, and the energy can't be stored..so why???

I would also suggest that supporters do a google search for 1607 great flood. I doubt if the barrage could withstand such a thing,but even if it did, the rebound wave of a major storm surge would swamp much of low-lying south Wales and the Somerset levels.

There are sensible alternatives. Why are the govt obsessed with the stupid one?
I am not an engineer so I am not in a position to comment on the impact of a Severn Barrage on flooding except to say that any study will need to deal with this issue. I will though make the comment that the threat of more severe flooding was one of the main objections to the Cardiff Barrage. Since it has been built I am not aware of any floods having taken place. Whether that is significant or not I do not know.
Much has been said about the employment the barrage could create.This has to be balanced against lost employment in the ports of Avonmouth Portbury Newport and Sharpness.

Sharpness relies almost exclusively on the extra depth of water brought in by spring tides. Newport and Portbury Docks rely on the spring tides to bring in the larger ships that generate much of the ports revenue.

Employment losses would not be confined to port employees,a massive amount of local industry is totally reliant on their raw materials coming in through the ports.

With the water level restricted to a lower level by a barrage these ports could become uneconomical with the loss of thousands of jobs throughout the region.

A knock on effect would then be a huge increase in road/rail transport bringing in the goods and materials previously brought directly by sea. This must have an environmental effect ,ships are extremely fuel efficient per ton of cargo compared with other means of transport,also they dont cause hold ups on the M4/M5 :-). Any financial benefits would have to be offset against the cost of improvements to our road system to accomodate hundreds of thousands of extra Goods Vehicles each year.

A lot has been said about the destruction of bird habitats,I think in the headlong rush to meet carbon emission targets the ultimate cost to human habitat and employment is not being considered fully.

The figure of 5% of the UKs electricity being generated is being put forward.With a bit of research and good old British ingenuity Im sure this could be achieved in a much less destructive way.
Not only can 5% be achieved less destructively but 7% can be achieved by using tidal lagoons as these work on both the ebb AND flow.
Furthermore, these do not block the shipping lane and could be located so as not to destroy the SSSI.
Take a look at http://www.foe.co.uk/resource/briefings/severn_barrage_lagoons.pdf
Im not a 'Friend of the Earth' but I most definately agree with them on this one.
I live at Stockton -on Tees.The Tees Barrage has created a Death Trap for the SALMON, SEA- TROUT,ELLS,FTATFISH,That are being slaughtered by SEALSandCORMERANTS,BECAUSE,they cannot enter the RIVER TEES and its Tributeries.BRITISH WATERWAYS The owners of the Tees Barrage and the Envoirement wont listen to TEES ANGLERS they are more intrested in creating a OLYMPIC WHITE WATER COURSE FOR WATERSPORTS.YOU can see the slaughter at the TEES BARRAGE IN Januarys TROUT & SALMON.Can WELSH SEA TROUT rivers be allowed the same slaughter as the TEES ,ARNT these fish more important to the Envoirement ,they are on a WORLD endangered species list.
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