DAMMING UP the Severn estuary to harness its tidal energy would have a devastating impact on wildlife in the area, according to a new report from the Wildlife Trust.
It urged the Government to investigate the possibility of more innovative schemes to produce green electricity from the Severn.
The trust warned that a proposed 10-mile barrage across the estuary would have an “unprecedented impact on the area”, that is a haven for young fish stocks, has transport and trade links through its ports and is used for recreation - such as surfers who ride the Severn bore surge wave.
The government is considering energy-generating proposals such as building a barrage as part of efforts to source energy from green power and cut the UK's carbon emissions.
Such a move could meet five per cent of the UK’s energy needs.
Money has also been invested in developing embryonic technologies and the Wildlife Trust wants the focus to be on these, which they believe will be less damaging.
They include a new type of barrage, a tidal fence and a tidal reef system, which would all allow the power of the water to be harnessed without blocking its full flow.
Wildlife Trust vice president Nick Baker described the estuary as a “unique and incredibly rich” environment for wildlife. Features include its mud flats, saltmarshes and wading birds.
The Wildlife Trust’s head of the living seas campaign, Joan Edwards, said the UK cannot view its energy needs “in isolation from our environment”.
She added: “We should not consider out-dated technology which could impact on the estuary on an unprecedented scale.”
A Department of Energy and Climate Change spokesman said the Government is carrying out a two-year feasibility study into whether it could support a tidal power project.
He added: “We need to understand the impacts, costs and the benefits before concluding whether a scheme would be a good idea.”
Newport AM backs Severn Barrage
Newport West AM Rosemary Butler supports the Severn Barrage.
She said there is no doubt the environment would change, but the advantages would outweigh the disadvantages.
She said: “With a barrage you would get new species coming to a much more hospitable environment, huge tourism potential, thousands of construction jobs, new transport links across the Severn, a much needed flood prevention system and a sustainable and reliable source of electricity- big enough to serve a population the size of Wales.”