Controversial plans for a tidal power barrage across the mouth of the Severn river have been slammed by an influential group of MPs, in a further blow to the future of the long-running project.
A barrage across the Severn estuary could meet as much as 5% of the UK’s electricity needs, but proponents have so far been unable to convince critics that wildlife, particularly birds and fish, could be protected.
On Monday, a report by the energy and climate change parliamentary select committee, which has been examining the issues, will be published. The MPs decided that current plans for a tidal power system, for an 18km fixed barrage between Brean in England and Lavernock Point in Wales, brought forward by Hafren Power, were unsatisfactory both for economic and environmental reasons.
The MPs found that the government would have to subsidise the scheme for decades in order to make it viable, and that the impacts on fish and other marine life, and the effects on the risk of flooding in the region, had not been adequately assessed.
Tim Yeo, chair of the committee, said: “More detailed [and] robust evidence about Hafren Power’s proposal and claims is needed. We cannot recommend the Hafren Power scheme as currently presented to us.”
He said that as well as economic concerns about whether the scheme would be competitive against other forms of low-carbon power, serious environmental concerns remained. “Far more detail and evidence is needed before the project could be regarded as environmentally acceptable. Concerns from industry, in particular the surrounding ports, have not been fully addressed. The impact on jobs and growth remains unclear.