Trust man speaks out against barrage plan
ONE of the top executives at the National Trust has spoken out against the idea of a single Severn Barrage.
Dr Simon Pryor, natural environment director with the Trust, which owns Brean Down, said a single barrage options would "bring significant environmental damage".
"The Severn Estuary offers huge potential to generate renewable energy and presents exciting opportunities to harness tidal power, which we fully support," he said. "But, it is also internationally important in terms of wildlife and habitats, landscapes and seascapes, and sites of historic and archaeological interest.
"We absolutely need to harness clean energy. But we need to do it in a way that minimises impacts on the natural environment, and, if we do it well, offers environmental gains.
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"We are yet to see concrete, evidence-based plans on the latest proposal so can't say if we would support them or not. However, in our view the single barrage option would bring significant environmental damage and would fundamentally change the natural processes of the estuary."
Dr Pryor was one of the charity representatives who gave evidence to a parliamentary select committee last week, set up to look at proposals to build a barrage across the estuary.
Discussions about a barrage have been taking place for many decades and the latest proposal, from private consortium Hafren Power, is for an 18km barrage between Brean and Lavernock Point in Wales, which would generate five per cent of UK electricity.
MPs invited the National Trust alongside the RSPB, Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust and Angler's Trust to give evidence at the inquiry. The committee, chaired by Tim Yeo MP, questioned the witnesses for nearly an hour on the impacts of the proposed barrage on impacts on flooding, and the likely effects on countryside and coastal habitats.
Dr Pryor said: "The National Trust would like to see more proposals to harness the Severn's power using smaller scale, diverse technologies which would have less impact on the estuaries complex natural system than a big barrage, and could be replicable elsewhere."