Filed under: Climate Change, Energy, Tidal Power | Tags: Cardiff, Department for Energy and Climate Change, Ed Miliband, Redshank, Severn estuary, Severn Tidal Barrage, The Guardian, The Times, Weston-super-Mare
With one of the largest tidal ranges in the world, the Severn estuary has been mooted as the ideal place to harvest the earth’s kinetic energy since as early as 1925. Various schemes have been and gone, with most unable to justify themselves economically.
The latest proposal links Weston-super-Mare to Cardiff with a 10 mile long barrage, which could provide an annual energy output of up to 15GW, looked set to follow them last week with rumours in the Times on Friday that the government was pulling the plug.
The Department for Energy and Climate Change quickly responded to the article saying that nothing of the sort had yet been decided and that instead they were awaiting results of the latest feasibility study. With talk of savage cuts by the government as the recession still has us tightly in its grasp, I’m not entirely surprised that plans for sustainable energy schemes are facing the chop first – their denial seems mightily flimsy if you ask me.
The Severn barrage has divided opinion among environmentalists for many years; it’s clean green energy but will displace thousands of birds in the estuary who rely on the mud as a bountiful feeding ground. However, the environmental trade off is that water levels will rise with global warning anyway, and such habitats will still be lost.
With the draw that this mega-barrage (set to be the largest tidal power station in the world) will be able to produce up to 5 per cent of the UK’s annual energy input, surely it’s a step in the right direction to cutting carbon emissions and hitting EU and global targets. Or the alternative is investing in nuclear, which will no doubt provide us with cheap energy and we’ll continue in our current wasteful ways. Ed Miliband’s proposals from July reported in the Guardian look set to slip if the barrage project does run aground.
Fellow WGD blogger Tanya and I recorded a radio two way interview on the whole debacle if you’ve got a spare three minutes.
Hanging in the balance – you can’t make everyone happy
The messages seem to be mixed, and obviously you can’t please every corner, but surely cleaner and more efficient energy production should prevail. There seem to be a multitude of arguments weighing up the pros and cons of the barrage, some stronger than others. As I’m no expert on the subject I wouldn’t want to belittle any of the arguments against as I am sure they are very valid, but I would see it as a crying shame if a barrage of some sort was not given the go ahead. Of course it would be a bad thing for thousands of birds to lose their habitat, but that’s what’s going to happen to us if we don’t face up to climate change and start to produce clean energy.
Oooo , I’ve just read that back and it doesn’t half sound melodramatic – theres nothing like a mini Monday melodrama! I’m not saying that I’m entirely for the barrage, I just feel mightily deflated that the government seem to be abandoning a scheme that to all intents and purposes is a step in the right direction. The proposed alternatives to the bombastic Cardiff-Weston barrage might just give the concept the nip and tuck it needs here and there for it to please even the most ardent of bird lovers.
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