Tuesday, 27 January 2009

The Severn Barrage - a little bit closer but a long way to go

Went to an event at @Bristol yesterday where Ed Miliband and no less than 3 other Government ministers and one from the Welsh assembly, revealed the latest on the Severn Barrage scheme - or, to put it more accurately - plans to harness tidal power in the Severn estuary which may or may not include a barrage. The main alternative is tidal lagoons, with the idea of a tidal reef not making the shortlist but not entirely being dismissed either.

Lots of coverage of it in the Indy today. Here and here.


Dave H said...

From the Indie (my italics):

"The shortlist will now be the subject of a public consultation and a final decision will be taken by 2010."

Analagous to Reggie Perrin's hippo, when this Government announces a Public Consultation I can normally hear the chorus from The Laughing Policeman.

However this very polarising decision is going to be taken in the run-up to a GE and the political map of the area most affected has quite a few red bits.

There must be a finite possibility that they will actually listen to people, if only for the purpose of saving Labour seats.

I'm surprised you haven't indicated where you stand over the barrage etc. Though in fairness (arrrgh!) it might be a rather early for all the pros, cons and potential environmental impact mitigations to have been worked out.

Glenn Vowles said...

Even green energy sources come second to energy efficiency in terms of achieving energy security and affordable bills, cost-effectiveness, job creation, carbon reduction, extra benefits like noise reduction and additional comfort, speed of impact....

The Weston-Super-Mare to Cardiff barrage can hardly be considered green in any case - its contruction would destroy the
estuary, breaking the EU's Habitats and Birds Directive.

Kerry said...

"I'm surprised you haven't indicated where you stand over the barrage". Yes I have, there's been loads of stuff on here in the past.

I think it would be wrong to be all gung ho about building it, when there are clearly environmental and economic concerns (re the port) and also question marks about how much electricity it would generate, but in principle I'd like to see one or several of the schemes go ahead.

Bristol Dave said...

Severn Barrage ideas are all well and good but we just have to accept the truth that the ONLY way that we can practically meet our country's power needs is with nuclear power, especially once Nuclear Fusion is cracked. It's the one thing Gordon Brown has got right - even if it was down to a shocking piece of nepotism (his brother Andrew works for EDF Energy) - he's right.

People who think that the country's energy needs can be met with wind turbines and wave generation simply don't understand anything about electricity. The power produced is minimal and the cost of upkeep is huge, with poor reliability.

Unfortunately, due to 20 years of the overly-vocal, paranoid and deeply misinformed Green lobby screaming and shouting down anybody who dares to even suggest considering nuclear power, we've missed the boat.

France didn't, and now are world leaders in Nuclear Power generation. So much so that a fairly large proportion of OUR electricity is generated by the French, using nuclear power (so all the people campaigning against it...too late!)

With the volatility of Russian relations we can't rely on gas for the future. Nuclear is the only option.

Renewable energy sources are worth considering for some things (e.g. solar panels to heat water rather than generate electricity) and are great for small-scale power generation (e.g. properties in the middle of nowhere with a wind turbine) but I'm afraid in the real world it just doesn't cut it.

The Filthy Engineer said...

Hi Kerry

My profession has been for many years, a Marine Engineer.

I quickly became aware of how unforgiving is the marine environment on all things mechanical. Whilst everyone touts on how much this green project,(and I include offshore wind turbines in this), will give us cheap energy, the other costs have to be added in.

What materials are we going to build them with? The maintenance cost alone will be staggeringly high. I expect that those touting for the contracts will have carefully hidden this from those proponents of the scheme.

You don't get something for nothing as we all know

Kerry said...

Spoke to Mike O'Brien the Energy Minister tonight. I am sure you will be very reassured to know that he does realise there will be ongoing maintenance costs involved, and that people who know about such things are looking at what it will be made of, and will make sure it's something that can withstand waves.

Steven_L said...


If you insist on borrowing or printing a load of money, trying to create jobs and trying to make our energy supply more sustainable:


**** the birds!!!!!! (they do have wings you know Kerry)

louise said...

Naively I did not realise until this last year that a future of greener energy to combat climate change would not necessarily benefit all living creatures on this planet. In fact the growth of greener fuels and energy may accelerate the extinction of many species, land grabbing / change of use for biofuels etc.

In spite of all our efforts in the UK many of our once common birds have declined by 70% or more since the 1970s and yet we are still considering projects that in one sweep would effect many thousands of birds. The Severn estuary is popular with birds because it is the best place for them to feed, if there was somewhere better they would be there already.

I grew up marvelling at diversity of life on this planet and have never stopped feeling that my life is enriched by sharing the planet with so many fantastic creatures. Sometimes I feel cursed that I have been born at this time when I will witness the rapid destruction of life and environments throughout the world. I feel helpless and depressed about the future. This feeling is aggravated by reading articles in papers, radio phone ins and bloggers text implying that people like me are selfish and encouraging nimbyism. So projects like the Severn Barrage would relieve the demand for energy and people could keep those light bulbs on and forget about the planet for a little bit longer. There are other options but of course it is "only" birds that are getting in the way - why consider them.

It is now unfashionable to care about wildlife. Apparently wildlife and people who treasure it are what gets in the way of future employment/ housing /roads / more energy - but I just don't want to live on this planet if it carries on the way it's going.

I would like to think it has to stop somewhere and that people could learn once again find pleasure in the beautiful world we live in more than they want to recharge that mobile.

Surely the "lagoons" are the best option. Creating energy whilst being more sympathetic to the environment.

Am I the only one who feels like this?