Details of Severn Estuary Feasibility Study Published

John Hutton, Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform, today published the terms of reference for a two-year feasibility study into the potential to harness tidal power from the Severn Estuary. The cross-Governmental project, involving the Welsh Assembly Government, South West Regional Development Agency, and other stakeholders, will analyse the potential environmental, social and economic impacts of a range of possible projects. The study will culminate with a full public consultation in early 2010.

Although a ‘Severn Barrage’, one of the projects under consideration, would have the potential to generate 5% of the UK’s electricity, its development poses grave concerns for many conservationists due to the importance of the Severn Estuary for, amongst others, over-wintering birds, migrating salmon and other species of fish. The Estuary represents 7% of the UK’s total tidal resource for wildlife and is afforded a high-level of protection under international legislation, such as the EU Habitats and Birds Directive.