Severn green power scheme moves a step closer

The possibility of a 10-mile barrage across the Severn to generate significant amounts of "green" electricity came a step closer tonight after it was included on a shortlist of tidal schemes published by the government.

The proposed shortlist for harnessing tidal power in the estuary also included two schemes for innovative tidal "lagoons" on the English and Welsh coasts and two smaller barrages.

Amid criticism that a barrage could be damaging to wildlife and the local economy, Energy and Climate Change Minister Ed Miliband insisted he had not "lost sight" of other technology which had been on a list of ten schemes under consideration.

These include a 12-mile tidal reef and tidal fences which would not dam the estuary like a barrage, causing less impact on its world-renowned habitat.

Miliband announced £500,000 of funding to develop new technology such as reefs to harness the energy of the tides.

And he said progress on those technologies would be considered before any final decisions on a tidal power scheme for the Severn estuary were made.

A two-year multimillion-pound feasibility study by the government aims to assess the costs, benefits and impacts of a tidal scheme in the Severn and identify a single preferred project from the proposed options next year.

Mr Miliband said "tough choices" had to be made in the fight against climate change.

"We need to think about how to balance the value of this unique natural environment against the long-term threat of global climate change," he said of the estuary.

But the government's conservation agency Natural England warned no Severn proposal should go ahead without a wider assessment of whether there were better ways to meet the drive towards renewable energy.

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