WWF Cymru Calls for More Research on Severn Barrage, UK

Leading conservation organisation WWF Cymru has urged caution on plans for a Severn barrage, following the announcement that David Cameron has asked officials to look at plans for the project.

Alun James, Policy Officer at WWF Cymru said:

“On this latest barrage plan, our message to Government and the developers is clear – establish the facts and show us the evidence. We’re pleased that the Government is looking at renewable energy projects as an alternative to new fossil or nuclear power stations, but in the case of the Severn barrage, we want to see a lot more research carried out.”

“There is a lot of work to be done – on the technology and on its impact on the local environment. For example, the knowledge on fish movements in the Estuary is still inadequate. The Government and consortium must be completely open on the new proposal and must disclose all research plans and findings. Low head turbines may well solve some of the environmental concerns but it is essential that their impact be fully assessed.

“As we showed in our Positive Energy report, we support a major shift to renewables so that we can have an affordable, reliable energy supply as well as a healthy environment. However, if Severn tidal energy is to play its part, much more research is needed on the environmental impacts as well as on the different ways in which the power of the Severn could be harnessed.”

The Government’s previous feasibility study, from 2008 to 2010, showed there were large uncertainties and gaps in knowledge. WWF believes these must be addressed through additional research work, for example on:

• Finding out more about the ecology of the Severn Estuary, particularly bird and fish behaviour and how a Barrage would affect land use, habitats and species.

• Examining the effect a barrage would have on water levels and flood risk

• Developing less damaging turbine technologies to reduce the number of fish killed passing through the turbines

• More assessment and development of technologies which could generate electricity in the Severn Estuary with reduced environmental impact.


Offshore WIND staff, August 21, 2012