The company bidding to create an electricity generating barrage across the Severn estuary have announced their partners.
Hafren Power said today that five global companies spanning engineering, construction, project management and logistics are working with it on its proposal to build the £25bn, 11 mile structure.
They say Arup, Bechtel, DHL, Mott MacDonald and URS are currently assessing the delivery model needed to manage the consent and environmental approval processes as well as the nine-year build of what they hope will be the biggest British infrastructure project since the Channel Tunnel.
Chief executive Tony Pryor says: "Government has an open mind on our proposal and we are working hard to provide further details of construction, environmental and business impacts and mitigation.
“These companies have successful track records in delivering large infrastructure projects and are bringing considerable expertise and momentum to the process.”
The proposed barrage, between Brean in England and Lavernock Point in Wales, will generate 6.5GW of electricity by using the ebb and flood of the estuary’s 14 metre tidal range – the second largest in the world – to power its 1,026 turbines.
Hafren claim it will be capable of meeting roughly 5 per cent of the UK's annual electricity needs when fully operational in 2025, making it one of the biggest power stations in the world.
The barrage would have a minimum lifespan of 120 years – far longer than any coal, gas or nuclear power station – though the firm say it would probably operate for much longer than this.
Pryor adds: “As part of the energy mix, tidal power is greatly under-utilised. As a sustainable energy source the Severn estuary barrage will help the UK meet its renewable energy requirements. The engineering could also become the standard for schemes elsewhere in the world.”
The firm estimates construction of the barrage will employ at least 20,000 workers, including concrete and steel jobs in South Wales and turbine manufacture and maintenance divided between the Bristol area and South Wales during the nine year build.
But Government approval is needed for the proposal, together with an agreement to support the electricity price in the first 30 years, in line with the consumer support granted to other low-carbon energy generators.
But representatives for the Environment Agency have already raised concerns with MPs about the impact the barrage would have on flooding and also on fish species reliant on the Severn.
Hafren says the barrage will defend 90,000 properties and 500km2 of flood plains from storm surges, tidal flooding and rising sea levels and the slow-turning bi-directional turbines to be used will permit broadly normal tidal patterns and minimise the impact on fish.
But with a £1bn flood protection plan for the next hundred years in place, EA representatives told MPs the barrage would be at best “cost neutral” in terms of flood defence and the predicted constriction of the tidal range caused by the barrage could in fact make flooding worse.
The representatives, giving evidence to The Energy and Climate Change Select Committee, also said they had serious concerns about significant numbers of fish being killed as migratory species such as salmon can spend up to four months in the estuary.