Radio 4: Time and Tide – The Severn Barrage


Update: government annouces short list for Severn energy options …. and further consultation. See here.

BBC reporter Miriam O’Reilly explores the viability of the Severn barrage project, potentially the biggest, most expensive and most controversial source of sustainable energy in the UK.

It could supply five per cent of our energy needs, but building it has a ten million-ton carbon footprint and a price tag of 15 billion pounds. It could supply clean, renewable energy for the next 100 years, but its construction would wipe out fragile and unique wildlife habitats and unpick European conservation legislation.

Miriam speaks to politicians, environmentalists and engineers to gauge the current mood and the future prospects of the project.


16 Jan 2009


*The barrage would be 16km (10m) long
*It would power more than 200 turbines
*Planners say it could create 35,000 construction jobs and
between 10,000 – 40,000 permanent jobs
*The barrage could be generating electricity within 11 years,  say planners

See also;

(1). UK government announces further study on tidal barrage  (Oct 07)

(2). Energy white paper – tidal barrage (May 07)

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5 Responses to Radio 4: Time and Tide – The Severn Barrage

  1. The Cardiff-Weston Barrage is the most controversial of all the options to harness the Severn Estuary, others such as the ‘Severn Tidal Power Reef’ would have far less impact and have the support of the RSPB who commissioned a report from consultants W.S.Atkins, who concluded that the ‘Reef’ could generate more power and at a lower cost. Why is all the talk about the Cardiff-Weston project and confrontation, isn’t it time we learned to cooperate and find the ‘best solution’ not just the easiest solution?

  2. matt says:

    Thanks for this Rupert. I agree that the best approach is one that produces as much power as possible for least environmental impact. For other readers, the BBC reports on this proposal here.

    There are ten options that the government are looking into. This whole process of consultation may now speed up somewhat as lots of jobs on large projects are needed!

  3. The Government says it is committed to looking in detail at any proposal that is feasible, generates enough power and addresses the many and complex issues including shipping and wildlife protection. So in the light of the support by the RSPB and Atkins for the ‘Reef’ concept, why is the ‘word on the street’ that only the ‘established options’ will be looked at in detail, especially when the so called ‘established options’ have never been built before or not on anything like this scale before?

  4. matt says:

    Is the ‘reef’ not one of the options the government are considering?

    Btw, did you hear the programme? It’s not available on iPlayer, which I wasn’t expecting.

  5. The ‘Reef’ is on the ‘long list’ of ten proposals, that the Government are about to reduce to around 5. The ‘Catch 22’ is that some people are saying that only proven technology should be considered, but to be proven you have to do it! Most of the engineering is simply a variation on a theme and has been used in sea defence and offshore oil work.

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