A Barrage of Nonsense
A couple of weeks ago I joined a group of environmental and angling organisations to meet with Peter Hain MP and the Halfren Consortium to raise serious concerns about the impact of a tidal power barrage which they hope to build across the Severn Estuary.
The Severn Estuary is one of the largest estuaries in Europe and is of international importance for its wildlife and is a unique landscape. Its saltmarshes and mudflats are used by 69,000 birds each winter, its waters support over 100 fish species and vast numbers of invertebrates, and the estuary is a vital migration route for fish including salmon and eels. 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 containing 45,000 residential properties. This highlights the fact that barrage construction in the Severn Estuary could have unacceptable impacts that would damage wildlife and disrupt the lives of those who and live and work around the estuary for decades if not centuries to come.
With 25% of the entire salmonoid fish migration for England and Wales running up the Severn Estuary there is little doubt that any barrage proposal would be in breach of the European Habitats Directive which requires protected environments and species to be provided with a compensatory habitat. Now it may be possible to re-create suitable habitat for wading birds somewhere else but they ain’t going to be able to create another salmon or sea trout river, that’s for sure.
Supporters of a new proposal for a ‘low head’ barrage being championed by Mr Hain and the consortium hope that their development would be less damaging. However, to date there is insufficient information to assess the extent to which this may actually be the case and their claims to have developed new ‘fish friendly’ turbines already look like poppycock.
I see that despite the Severn Barrage being dropped by the government only two years ago there is a new attempt to get it back up the political agenda with the latest intervention from Lord Heseltine and an announcement of yet another parliamentary inquiry, this time by the DECC Select Committee.
More details HERE
And here’s what Hezza said:
“It goes without saying that a secure and affordable supply of energy is essential to everything we do. It also provides opportunities for growth. During a trip to the Humber I heard from everyone I met the importance to the region of investment in offshore wind. Similarly the Severn Barrage offers the possibility of both a long term source of energy and extraordinary economic regeneration.”
Anglers can be assured that we are all over this issue and will be vigorously fighting our corner against those who might seek to bury the hard fought legal protection that has been won for our rivers and fish under several million tonnes of concrete.