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Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Severn Barrage is dead in the water

Former Secretary of State for Wales, Peter Hain was all over the media yesterday telling anybody who would listen that the Severn Barrage is dead in the water and that it is all the coalition government's fault. 

He also dismisses the conclusions of the all-party Commons’ Energy and Climate Change Committee about the supposed thinness of the business case for the Barrage. So basically, it is everybody else's fault.

The Western Mail reports that the Chancellor has responded as follows: “As you know, DECC is encouraging Hafren Power to undertake more work on the details of the project, particularly the environmental aspects.

“We appreciate that they have already done some work in this area, as presented in the business case you attacked, and that doing further work would be costly.

“However, as this would be such a large, novel and complex infrastructure project, more evidence surrounding the cost, benefits and impacts is needed before we can look at it in greater detail.

“You are right to note that affordability is one key constraint on this project. The Government would need to be convinced that the costs of the Barrage would be less than the generation technology that it would displace and that the financing of the project could be structured to limit the upfront cost to bill payers.”

Peter Hain and the developers would get the same response from any government, simply because they have failed to make their case. The Committee underlines that point decisively:

In a report published today – A Severn Barrage? – MPs say that while the barrage could help tackle climate change, the Hafren Power scheme had failed to demonstrate economic, environmental and public acceptability.

Hafren Power proposed an 11-mile fixed tidal barrage between Brean and Lavernock Point.
Although construction of the barrage would be privately financed, Government support would be required for approximately 30 years.

Tim Yeo MP, committee chairman, said: "We are not convinced that the economic case for the proposed barrage is strong enough.

"The Hafren Power project in its current form has not demonstrated sufficient value as a low-carbon energy source to override local business and environmental concerns."

The report said that industry concerns – including from Bristol Port – had not been "fully addressed", while the impact on jobs and growth "remains unclear".

If the Severn Barrage is a viable project then the company concerned needs to prove it, and that means addressing the issues raised by government and MPs of all parties. European and International regulations designed to protect our environment require that we get this right, whilst the finances and economic impact need to stack up as well.

Throwing intemperate accusations about in this way is not going to get the job done.
Shame on you for with-holding support from this wonderful project. How expensive do you think oil- or gas-generated electricity will be in 20 years time? And to think you are now sneering at a chance for 120 years supply of masses of free, clean energy! Keep saving ducks and badgers?
I am not sneering at the project Conall, just saying it is not viable as currently designed. There are too many unanswered questions, something that Peter Haines conveniently overlooks
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