Environmental NGOs meet Peter Hain over Severn Barrage plan concerns
12:20pm Saturday 20th October 2012 in News
A GROUP of environmental and angling Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) met on Tuesday (October 16) with Peter Hain MP, to raise their concerns about the impact of a tidal power barrage which he is championing for the Severn Estuary from Lavenock Point.
In 2010 a Government study into the feasibility of building a barrage across the Severn confirmed that the impacts of a conventional 'high head' barrage could be catastrophic, including the local extinction of some species of fish and an increase in flood risk over an area of 370 square kilometres.
Supporters of a new proposal for a 'low head' barrage being championed by Mr Hain hope their development would be less damaging, but say to date there is insufficient information to assess the extent to which this may be the case.
The NGOs set out a series of key challenges for Mr Hain and leaders of the consortium which is developing the plans, and will be submitting a document to them setting out the areas of concern and the work they say needs to be done to assess the scale of the impact of the proposal.
Kate Jennings from the RSPB said: "We urge the consortium to provide us with an independent assessment of the impact of the proposed barrage on the environment and communities of the Severn Estuary and beyond, as an essential part of producing a robust and responsible proposal. Without that, it will not be possible to reach an informed view on what is proposed, and our concerns will remain unaddressed."
Mark Lloyd, chief executive of the Angling Trust said: "We cannot consider whether to support any proposal in the Severn until robust and peer-reviewed science has been produced to quantify the impact on fish."
Alun James, Policy Officer from WWF Cymru said: "As a group, the NGOs have significant interests in the Severn Estuary - and a lot of expertise in understanding the effects of development on wildlife.
"We are keen to see a robust evidence-based assessment of the impact on the estuary and its wildlife of any proposal to harness Severn tidal power."
Dr Deborah Pain, Conservation Director for the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust, said: "WWT supports the search for appropriate use of tidal energy in the Severn Estuary, but it is a delicately balanced environment where ill-thought through schemes could be damaging to wildlife, homes and businesses if we get it wrong.
"We urge the Government to stick to the findings of the Severn Tidal Power Feasibility Study, and Peter Hain to work with all the interested groups to produce the power we need while minimising damage to the environment we live in."