Severn Barrage Development

Today the Sustainable Development Commission (SDC) released a report on the development of the Severn Barrage. If fully exploited, SDC have suggested that the barrage will supply 10% of the UK’s electricity which will combat both current issues of climate change and energy security. The barrage would generate large quantities of low carbon electricity thus assisting in reaching the 2050 climate change reduction targets and the renewable energy targets. Despite the potential advantages of the barrage, the SDC says there are serious environmental costs that need to be addressed.

The Severn Estuary is home to unique ecosystems that are protected under national and international legislation. The estuary is an internationally important site for 65,000 migratory birds, five of which are of international importance and ten are of national importance. The estuary is designated a Special Protection Area (SPA) under the EU Birds Directive and is a candidate Special Areas of Conservation (SAC) under the EU Habitats Directive. Surrounding areas of the Severn Estuary are also protected under international and national statutory designations such as RAMAR, SSSI and both Local and National nature reserves. These ecosystem habitats would be directly affected by the development of the barrage. Under the EU Directives, the development must go through a series of tests which includes providing habitat compensation costing in the region of 7.5million for a new 115ha habitat.