WWF Cymru statement on new plans for a barrage across the Severn Estuary
8 December 2011
Anne Meikle, Head of WWF Cymru said:
"WWF Cymru is yet to see the proposals developed by Corlan Hafren, and we would need to properly consider the details of the proposed scheme before we could judge whether it has any merit. However, if the Corlan Hafren plans are based on traditional barrage technology, we are sceptical that the scheme could be developed without resulting in unacceptable environmental impacts.
The Feasibility Study undertaken by the UK Government between 2008 and 2010 showed that there was no strategic case for a Severn Tidal Power scheme to proceed at this time and that a barrage would lead to severe and irreversible environmental impacts, including the possible local extinction of salmon and twaite shad and significant reductions in the feeding area for migratory birds. The Study also raised concerns about the increased risk of local fluvial floods and possible increase in the height of tides as far away as the Llyn Peninsula.
It should also be noted that the job potential cited by Corlan Hafren was many times the net job creation identified in the Feasibility Study.
WWF supports the urgent deployment of renewable energy projects to help reduce our carbon emissions provided they do not cause unacceptable damage to the environment. In principle, therefore, WWF could support alternatives to the original Severn Barrage technology if these had a better balance between providing the UK with renewable electricity and minimising environmental impacts.
Any development must take account of the fact that the Severn Estuary is a wildlife habitat of international, European and national significance. It is a Special Protection Area under the European Commission's Birds Directive, a Special Area of Conservation under the Habitats Directive, a Ramsar Wetland as well as incorporating many areas designated as Sites of Special Scientific Interest. Any development in the Estuary must comply with the requirements of the legislation governing these designations and ensure that the integrity of an important site for environmental conservation is not undermined.
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