Why is Peter Hain backing this scheme?
NOW why should an MP who years ago was parachuted into a safe Labour seat in South Wales suddenly decide to lead a campaign on behalf on a massive business consortium (Corlon Hafren) that wants to build an equally massive barrage across the Severn Estuary (The Post October 31)?
In his youth he used to demonstrate by digging up cricket pitches; later, as an MP, he wanted to give Gibraltar to the Spanish; later still, he was at the centre of a Labour Party donations scandal. So what is Mr Hain's latest scheme about? We know that this barrage idea isn't in the interest of Bristolians, and what possible use could it be to the good people of Neath, whose MP he is?
Certainly, it is imperative that we continue to examine the environmental, financial and other implications of this proposal. We know that thoughts of profit will be motivating the consortium that wants to build it, but isn't it just as important to know exactly of any vested interests that may motivate Mr Hain, as an MP, to be an ambassador for this huge company? Better for it all to be in the open now, rather than much later have to have an expensive public enquiry of the sort we're familiar with now.
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TWO articles were of particular interest to me in The Post(October 31). The first was the article on the need for a tidal barrier at Avonmouth, and the other was a comment made in the article on the building of the nuclear plant by Hitachi where reference was made to Bristol Deep Sea Container Port.
It seems to me that the growth needed in the British economy requires long-term vision rather than short-term, which is like building with bricks with no real plan in mind, hoping that 'something' will come together and be what we want.
With the need for long-term vision in mind, I have long thought that the Bristol Channel is much underused as a means of world trade. Despite the slave trade, Bristol has a significant maritime history and, I believe, could again be a significant player among the ports that contribute to this nation's wealth and the Bristol community in particular.
Let's suppose the tidal barrier were in place at Avonmouth. It could mean that smaller shipping would have access to Bristol without necessarily being subject to the tides which seriously limits access. Further, if a tidal barrier was put across the channel as has been proposed which included locks adequate for ocean going vessels and the sea level above it kept at a navigable depth, then ships would not be limited to the tides, increasing trade.
Bristol's future economy needs long-term vision. It cannot just rely on tourism, entertainment, business and the City. It could be a major import/export city which would increase significantly all those other elements I've mentioned. It requires all the political pundits whether in Council, running for Mayor or in Parliament, to have the guts to think and plan long-term with an enlarged vision for growth and prosperity.
JOINED-up thinking is a wonderful thing. But alas not here in Bristol!
A few years ago I wrote to the inquiry considering the building of the new deep water terminal. I pointed out the need to ensure that nothing was done which would prevent the building of the Severn Barrage in the future. Now we have Jon Rogers opposing the barrage because it would affect the new dock.
The latest proposal is for a barrage across the Avon to stop flooding. Why not build it across the Severn and stop flooding and generate electricity? Would such a barrage stop flooding further up the Severn around Gloucester and Tewkesbury? Doesn't matter. That's a different council so they can build there own barrage.
With a little foresight we could have saved a huge part of the cost of the Second Severn Crossing by building it on top of the barrage. Alternatively if the Barrage is a non-starter then why didn't we install turbines in the base of the SSC? Wouldn't that have saved money?
I think it is time this sort of project was investigated by those with knowledge and scientific expertise in the appropriate area.