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Severn barrage plan 'to be dropped'

The Government is about to reject a plan for a huge tidal energy construction project in the Severn Estuary, according to The Observer newspaper.

Only if private firms pledge an investment will the £20bn works proceed, the paper reported.

The newspaper said environmentalists will welcome the news but that some will say the Government is self-evidently breaking its promises about recalibrating the UK economy to help tackle climate change.

A report due out by the Government is expected to instead propose that a much smaller version of the scheme is built, although the £3bn needed for this will not be paid for by the state either.

The Severn Tidal Power Group, which includes construction giants Robert McAlpine and Balfour Beatty, is apparently still interested in the project but a spokesman told The Observer it is unlikely to want to pay the £250M apparently required to get the project into the planning stage, in case the bid is rejected.

The proposed project around south Wales and Somerset would ultimately supply around 5% of the UK’s electricity needs.

Readers' comments (7)

  • A great pity. This scheme should have been built over 40 years ago when it was first proposed. It would then have been "subsidised" by the costs saved from not building 1 if not the eventual 2 River Severn motorway bridges. It is a massive dependendable, and hence usable/manageable, renewable power generation system with reliable forecasts of base load future power generation based solely on establishe tide tables.

    The smaller version may very well be a typical compromise worst solution.

    This is a major infrastructure work which should surely be worthy of at least an accelerated new style Planning Application partly, if not completely, subsidised by the UK taxpayers from only a small proportion of the massive amounts of similar money being wasted on subsidies for wind farms.

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  • Don't forget the even massive-er subsidies for nuclear.

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  • Extremely short sighted decision if true. We have the second highest tidal range in the world and opportunity to help keep the lights on the near future. We need to make the most of natural assets.

    Nuclear fuel is in relatively short supply. In addition, I understand the whole life cost (energy requirement) including building, maintenance, decomissioning, fuel/waste storage and transportation is barely more than it produces in it's lifetime.

    Our current dependance on gas for energy producton in the face of declining output from the North Sea means we are reliant on Russia, Norway, West Africa and the Middle East.

    In the UK we need some common sense on energy and less politics.

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  • Another missed opportunity? When will we get some long term commitment to self sufficiency in power supply!
    Eur Ing R astley

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  • If this is true what a wasted opportunity for sustainable energy. Probably the best site in this country for this type of electricity generation technology.

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  • Following on the governments refusal of an £80m loan to Sheffield forgemasters to develop Nuclear related technology in the UK one wonders where the Governments energy policy is?

    As a country we need a mixed bag of sources for power generation, fossil fuel, nuclear & renwewable, as price & security of supply are major issues.

    The severn scheme ticks a lot of renewable / environmental boxes & goes some way to assisting with the base load that our distribution system requires with a "Smart Grid" being still in the future.

    I just hope that our government can see this project as the "Hoover Dam" of our recession & stop fiddling with policy as we stumble towards "Brown Out".


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  • I agree with David Robertson but he may have missed something. We already have a Brown out. I am shure Mr Cameron will lead us to victory. Or was that Audy Murphy?

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