Peter is working to deliver the Cardiff-Weston Severn barrage for Wales, because it is the single most important low carbon, renewable energy project in Europe and should be backed by all those who are serious about tackling climate change.
It would generate the equivalent of several nuclear power stations, and contribute over 5% of Britain’s entire electricity requirements. It would harness the enormous tidal power of the Severn estuary which has the second highest tidal range in the world.
Tidal energy generation has a considerable advantage over other renewable energy technologies, because tides are predictable and constant. Whereas wind and solar are intermittent, tidal power is continuous. The project backers, Hafren Power, have engaged with the RSPB and other environmentalists to address their concerns. Turbine design has been reconfigured to be fish-friendly and the ebb and flow mechanism to be used will enable the Severn estuary above the barrage to be maintained at a much more stable level rather than the massive rise and fall which makes it so harsh for the Severn’s fragile ecosystems. Research suggests that a Barrage would also reinvigorate the environment and protect declining species such as the Dunlin, an iconic bird in the Severn which has experienced a catastrophic fall in numbers.
Not only will existing ecosystems be protected, but a study of La Rance Barrage in France suggests that there would be a significant increase in faunal abundance and biodiversity. The barrage would slow down the fearsome Severn tide, introducing more light and oxygen and therefore improving the water quality, attracting more fish which will support greater and more diverse birdlife.
The barrage will provide exactly the kind of green jobs and investment environmentalists have long been demanding. At the peak of construction the barrage would create 35,000 jobs distributed over the UK with about half in South Wales. Well over 10,000 permanent jobs would be created around the estuary. There will be huge new opportunities for new leisure activities such as water sports, fishing and bird watching on both sides of the Severn estuary.
With the economy in britain and Europe flatlining, the £30 billion of private investment should be a no brainer.
Additionally, the Cardiff Weston barrage would also act as a storm surge barrier protecting people’s homes and assets that are under threat from rising sea levels and increasingly volatile weather. It will produce electricity for generations to come, with a life expectancy of 150 years as a tried and tested technology. La Rance has been reliably generating tidal power for nearly forty years and has a long and profitable life ahead.
Potential developers have made clear that they do not need any public money. If they have the active backing of the government, especially through the planning process, and for a private parliamentary bill, they are confident of raising the £30bn plus funding necessary to build it.
In short, the barrage is a unique opportunity to produce green energy and tackle climate change; create employment; safeguard peoples’ homes from rising water levels and protect and promote indigenous wildlife and biodiversity.
With new nuclear power in doubt and nuclear power stations coming to the end of their lives, what is going to fill this gap? And what is going to stop the lights going off? The Severn Barrage is one of the projects, probably the key project, that stops that happening.