Severn Barrage scheme 'will boost jobs'
9:20pm Thursday 10th January 2013 in News
THE prospect of a Severn Barrage has been "studied to death’’ but the time has come to press ahead with the £25 billion scheme, a former Government minister said today.
The project would create thousands of much-needed jobs and help tackle climate change, Labour MP Peter Hain said.
He made an impassioned plea in support of the controversial proposal, which he said would bring "considerable benefits’’ to the UK.
The former Welsh Secretary told the Energy and Climate Change Committee that 50,000 jobs would be created by the barrage.
It would provide 5% of the UK's electricity, equivalent to three or four nuclear power stations and thousands of wind turbines, he said.
And it would also give flood protection to 90,000 properties, he told MPs.
Around 20,000 direct jobs would created, as well as 30,000 others in the supply chain and other parts of industry, giving a huge economic boost to South Wales and to South West England, he said.
The Neath MP said he understood the controversy generated by the proposal, which has sparked opposition from environmental groups and suggestions that it would hit the port at Bristol.
Mr Hain said a Severn Barrage was a "win-win’’ project for ports in Bristol and Port Talbot and maintained it had attracted almost universal support from the Welsh public.
"This has been studied to death. We could carry on researching this for decades to come, meanwhile we are not achieving our climate change objectives and missing out on the massive economic benefits.
"We have to think big, act big and grasp this opportunity. This is natural power which in the long term will produce incredibly cheap electricity for the UK and has many other benefits.’’ Andy Richards of the Unite union agreed there was "significant’’ public support in Wales.
He said it was time to move on from the "scaremongering’’ and start to examine the detail of the proposal by Hafren Power, the firm behind the scheme.
"I hope the opposition is not being based on parochial future business interests.’’