Time for tidal in the Severn Estuary?

The Hendry review is due to be published tomorrow and is expected to recommend the go-ahead for a tidal lagoon project in Swansea Bay.

This has been the subject of a variety of posts on this blog: Guest blog – Time for tidal power by Sian John, 15 July 2016; NGO reaction to Swansea Bay tidal lagoon project, 22 April 2014; Time to be in favour of something…, 15 April 2014.

My own position is that a tidal lagoon in Swansea Bay is worth the gamble – we need more renewable energy and this location seems a good place to start (and the company involved have put a lot of effort into addressing the environmental issues).

But one of the reasons for saying ‘yes’ to Swansea Bay would be to learn, and although future projects, almost certainly in more controversial locations, would have to stand or fall on their own merits, it is also the case that lessons would have to be learned from Swansea Bay, and that can’t be done until a lagoon is built.

It seems to me that, so far, the developers and the conservation organisations have behaved very sensibly and that must be a good sign for the future.  But if there is to be trouble ahead it might arise in at least two different ways.

If the developer acted as though a green light for Swansea Bay really means a green light for every other more contentious project that they might have at the back of their minds then that will cause problems.  The developer knew that Swansea Bay was the least contentious potential project, though contentious enough, and that gaining approval for it (if that happens) would not necessarily mean getting approval for other tidal lagoon projects in the Severn. If the financial viability of the work were dependent on there being several lagoons than the developer should have put the most contentious one forward straight away to test the system. But they didn’t, so presumably they will be chuffed to bits with an eventual go-ahead for Swansea Bay.

On the other hand, there might be a temptation for conservation organisations to try to halt any further proposals until a Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon is built and up-and-running for many years on the basis of learning from this example.  Sounds sensible but the developer should ask what exactly will be learned from Swansea Bay and are there other ways of getting a handle on similar information more quickly.  And certainly environmental assessment of other projects should begin sooner rather than later, if only to flag up issues that need solutions.

Here is some media coverage: Telegraph, Guardian.

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6 Comments

  1. john Miles says:

    The West Cumbrian site contains an ancient drowned forest and some amazing low water corals. There was talk of flooding the Inner Solway but that would mean destroying the Spitsbergen Barnacle Geese population which relies on Rockcliffe Marsh for their migration north. I've been told that these sites will become massive water sports sites not wildlife sanctuaries!

    How will these sites if developed deal with rising sea levels?

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    • Mike says:

      Exactly, they are sold as 'green' then they add 'leisure' aspects and boat rides, 'view the lagoon' etc. Nature is the very LAST thing they are concerned about. It is totally scandalous.

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  2. Mike says:

    I am getting very fed up with how so-called 'greens' and the so-called caring left wing are prepared to sell out our environment and our wildlife to every so-called 'green' energy vanity project.
    Basically these things are one giant experiment with nature, designed to make money for all the eco types who have figured out that you can sell anything to many so-called conservationists and environmentalists if you assoicate it with 'climate change'. There was a time when the prospect of a tidal lagoon in the Severn would have been heartily resisted from the very start by every conservationist and conservation group in the land. But no more, all must be sacrificed on the altar of cash cow of the 'sustainability' industry. Just as elsewhere focus and conern with habitat loss has been eclipsed by 'climate change', now we find the very real prospect of one of the most senstive and precious areas in the country having its precious shores and systems having this inflicted in it. You can be sure that the impact on birds, fish and other wildlife will be massaged away, because there is big money and it will have 'green' put in front of the title. Soon there will be nowhere like the Severn left, a place I have spent looking out on nearly every week since I was a boy. The climate change industry, for that is what it has become has become, is like a religon, blinding people to its impact on our landscapes and wild, senstive places. God help us all quite frankly. I hope at least WWT will come out fighting. I fear though that so many of the groups have become full of people who will not speak truth to power when it comes to these schemes for fear of not appearing 'green'. If the oil industry was proposing something like this in this type of location there would be uproar. Because its got 'eco' in the title its all ok of course. I realise I will be shot down on here because these days if you are a birder you have to be a 'green' or left wing, everyone else is persono non grata. But hey ho, I love nature as much as the next person and I will do everything I can to fight this even if many who say they care about the Severn will cheerfully support its destruction for birds and other animals.

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  3. Mike says:

    I will be writing to WWT as a member to ask what they will be doing to oppose.

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  4. Anna Tarbet says:

    The release of the Hendry Review is wonderful news for all involved - now lets hope UK Government gets behind the scheme and starts supporting renewables, as nuclear cannot be the only way to meet our low carbon commitments.

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