Severn Barrage plan will not affect jobs at Bristol Port - man behind the scheme claims
THE private consortium behind the latest plans to build a barrage across the Severn has denied claims the scheme would cost jobs in the South West.
A consortium of businesses called Hafren Power want to build a £25 barrage from North Somerset to South Wales in a bid to harness tidal energy from the Severn.
But Bristol Port has claimed that the scheme would badly hit its business and lead to thousands of job losses in the area.
This week Hafren has been giving evidence to a Parliamentary committee about the scheme along with other interested parties.
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The group has claimed the plans to build an 11 mile tidal power station across the Severn Estuary would generate zero carbon electricity. Hafren has also pledged to work with everyone involved to protect the economy and wildlife of the estuary.
Tony Pryor, Hafren Power's chief executive, said: "We will deliver green, safe, secure and ultimately the cheapest electricity for Britain into the next century.
"The barrage will create 20,000 construction jobs and protect tens of thousands of properties from rising sea levels and storm surges.
"We believe this is a project whose time has come but it will not be at the expense of upstream port jobs, fish or birds."
He added: "We are committed to working with everyone in the months and years ahead to show how new technology and planning can mitigate risks. We are determined to get it right."
The barrage, between Brean in England and Lavernock Point in Wales, will generate power on the ebb and flood of the second largest tidal range in the world at 14 metres - a potential energy source capable of meeting some five per cent of the UK's annual electricity needs.
Its 1,026 turbines will generate 6.5GW, making it one of the biggest power stations in the world.
According to Hafren the barrage would have a minimum lifespan of 120 years – far longer than any coal, gas or nuclear power station.
A parliamentary bill is needed to authorise the project, together with an agreement to support the electricity price in the first 30 years, in line with the subsidy granted to other low-carbon energy generators.
The barrage would cost £25 billion to build and would be privately financed by sovereign wealth funds and other investors, of which around 80 per cent will be spent in the UK.
Around 20,000 workers would be needed to build the barrage over a nine year period – including concrete and steel jobs in South Wales and turbine manufacture and maintenance divided between the Bristol area.
Hafren has also claimed there will be no affect on shipping in the estuary.
The Environment Agency also gave evidence at the select committee and claimed the scheme could lead to even more flooding in the South West.
The Environment Agency said its initial assessment suggests that over 100 years the overall impact of a barrage on flood risk management costs "may be neutral".
But it conceded that the barrage could protect areas upstream from storm surge and tidal floods, but says it has the potential to increase coastal flood risk elsewhere.
Sue Turner, communications director at Bristol Port, said: "It is clear that Hafren Power do not know how to build their barrage without doing immense, irreparable damage to the wildlife and economy of our area.
"The Select Committee will hear more evidence on 28 February so we look forward to their report after that dismissing this half-baked plan. The only good thing to come from this farce with Hafren Power is that there is a growing coalition in England and Wales working to generate electricity from the Severn without the toxic Cardiff-Weston Barrage."