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Severn tidal barrage in doubt

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Whilst there are ongoing environmental worries about the Severn Tidal Barrage, plans to build the ten-mile barrage across the River Severn look to be stumbling because of Government cost cutting. The barrage could generate an astonishing 5 per cent of all of Britain’s electricity each year, but at a cost of £23 billion to build, the project is set to be indefinitely postponed early next year when ministers announce whether to commit fresh public funding, according to Westminster insiders. This strikes us here as a bit daft (to say the least). As a nation  we rely on imported coal and gas to fire our polluting power stations and we are still hugely reliant on imported oil as a fuel source – so anything the United Kingdom can do to become more self sufficient in energy is surely an economic and political advantage – and that is without the benefit to the environment and the fight against climate change. Now I was just thinking, this will cost £23 billion and will give us 5% of our country’s electricity (from the tide) for the forseeable future – and by coincidence the Treasury is planning £25 billion in ‘quantitative easing’ in the near future – printing kore money really. So could we nominate a good home for the money ……? Anyway,  the news will be a blow for advocates of the scheme, including the Sustainable Development Commission. They argue that it would help Britain to meet its ambitious EU targets of generating 30 per cent of UK electricity from renewable sources by 2020 but clearly the scheme will require large amounts of public money within the next two or three years. The Guardian reports Matthew Bell, of Frontier Economics, the author of a report on the costs of the Severn project, saying: “Given that the Government has only a limited amount of money and some very ambitious renewable energy targets, it wants to make sure it gets the best value it can — and the Severn Barrage is simply more expensive than any other form of renewable generation.” A conventional barrage would have a capacity of 8,640 megawatts and an estimated output of 17 terawatt hours a year — about 5 per cent of present UK electricity demand. But such a link would involve moving 18 million tonnes of seabed to create a level surface and require 13 million tonnes of concrete and aggregates and in July, the chairman of the Environment Agency, Lord Smith of Finsbury, delivered a blow to the plans, hinting strongly that the agency would oppose proposals for the barrage if environmental concerns are not addressed