Severn Barrage hopes revived
SUPPORTERS of plans for a Severn Barrage claim the Prime Minister has promised to look into the details of the £30 billion project.
The idea was ruled out by the coalition in 2010 following the Severn Tidal Power Feasibility Study, for not making enough of a case for public investment.
But Peter Hain, the former Labour Welsh Secretary, quit his front bench role to become a champion of the scheme and after a meeting with the Prime Minister on the subject, said: "It was a more productive meeting than might have been expected. It's encouraging that Number 10 are taking the barrage much more seriously than has been the case over the last few years.
"Government support is an absolute pre-requisite for getting the whole project under way. Not a penny of taxpayers' money would be needed for this £30bn investment, which would be transformative for Wales.
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"At the peak of construction the barrage would create 35,000 jobs distributed over the UK. 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."
The barrage has been proposed in numerous incarnations, most recently as put forward by Corlan Hafren, from Lavernock Point in South Wales to Brean. The 18km length would also carry road and rail. A renewed scheme by the consortium plans for 800 turbines running on both ebb and flow.
Corlan Hafren says the building of the barrage alone would create 20,000 jobs, with another 30,000 created across the UK through the economic benefits, and would be funded by outside investment from Kuwait, Qatar and sovereign wealth funds, The Independent on Sunday reported.
However, there have been fears expressed over the impact on jobs at docks such as Avonmouth and Portbury, the former of which has put forward plans for a £600 million deep-water terminal, increasing its capacity from 3,000 containers a year to more than 15,000.
Mr Hain has said that around half of those jobs created would be in Wales, with special mention for Port Talbot, the former steel town west of, and outside, the barrage. It is mooted to become the barrage's construction hub but Mr Hain has also expressed hope that it could become a successful container port.
Output from the barrage is estimated to be five per cent of the nation's energy requirement, about the same as that predicted for nearby Hinkley Point C, owned by EDF.
However, wildlife groups opposed to the idea of a Severn Barrage, claim it would devastate wildlife further up the estuary, a hotbed for migrating birds from all over the world.
Earlier this year, the RSPB said the charity "wishes to see Severn tidal energy harnessed but not at the expense of important and protected wildlife".