Next stage in tidal barrage scheme

Another stage in a controversial scheme to build a 10-mile tidal barrage across the Severn estuary has been announced, with the appointment of a consortium to manage an environmental assessment.

Consulting firm Parsons Brinckerhoff will help provide an analysis of how the environment around the estuary would be affected if a tidal range power project went ahead.

The £14 billion project, which could supply 5 per cent of the UK's electricity and create 40,000 jobs, has been hailed as "breathtaking" by Government ministers, but the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds said the barrage would put thousands of birds and fish at risk.

Business Secretary John Hutton, who announced a two year long feasibility study in January, said today: "A Severn tidal power project could be larger in size, output and cost than any other energy project in this country.

"It has the potential to generate up to 5 per cent of the UK's electricity demand and contribute significantly to the proposed EU renewable energy targets.

"It's therefore vitally important we undertake the most thorough and exhaustive study and contract the right companies to take this work forward."

Jane Davidson, Minister for the Environment at the Welsh Assembly added: "The Welsh Assembly Government is committed to increasing the amount of energy generated from renewable sources so as to help address the serious issue of climate change. We must, therefore, consider carefully the opportunity to harness tidal power in the Severn Estuary.

"I am very much aware of the estuary's environmental importance and the environmental protection legislation that, quite rightly, will need to be taken fully into account.

"There is a great deal at stake and our assessments during the feasibility study must be rigorous and based on sound science."

Image: The Severn Estuary

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