RSPB Challenges Severn Barrage Plans

The RSPB has this morning challenged the proposed development of a barrage across the Severn Estuary, citing evidence from a study by the Dutch Government of a similar development at the Oosterschelde estuary in the Netherlands. The study of the barrier at the Oosterschelde estuary, erected in the 1980s, concludes that flood risk was exacerbated behind the barrier, causing damage to wildlife, fishing, tourism and shipping.

Dr Mark Avery, Director of Conservation at the RSPB, appeared on this morning’s BBC Radio 4 ‘Today’ programme, interviewed alongside an engineering expert from the University of Cardiff. Dr Avery stressed the RSPB’s support for proposals to tap into the renewable energy potential of the Severn river but urged the UK Government to consider alternatives to a barrage. The Cardiff University academic in response cited a study which showed that the ecosystems around the Dutch barrage had shown ‘resilience’ to the effects of the barrier however, indicating the the impact on wildlife had not been as negative as portrayed by the Government in the Netherlands. In challenging this, Dr Avery urged the UK Government to look at the study from the Netherlands carefully and to learn from experience in other areas before making a decision on whether to proceed with a Severn barrage.

More details: South Wales Argus, 9 February 2010