Advantages and Disadvantages of the Severn Tidal Barrage
- Installed capacity of 8.5 GW equating to 5% of UK power requirement.
- Renewable energy thus increasing our percentage of power from renewable sources.
Savings of over seven million tons of CO2 every year
- Long-term construction project which will give employment to 35000 construction workers
- Protection from rising sea-levels and storms
- Access between England and Wales via road and rail links across barrage
- Protected area for water sports such as yachting, canoeing and fishing
- Boost to local businesses and tourism enterprises
- Power generating sequence.
The power will come in two large bursts which the national grid will have trouble distributing. It can coincide with a period where little extra power is needed such as during the night.
There are several endangered, rare species of fish which currently migrate into the Severn estuary and river notably shad, lamprey, Atlantic salmon, and seatrout.
There are thousands of migrating birds which use the estuary for overwintering and breeding grounds, among these shell duck, redshanks, and many species of geese and waders.
Water quality and feeding grounds
There will be changes to currents which will affect water turbidity and sedimentation leading to detrimental effects to plankton, and erosion of salt marshes, mudflats, and sandflats.
From the above environmental concerns, the tidal barrage would seem to herald an environmental disaster. However there may solutions to these concerns such as creating a new habitat close by to accommodate the wildlife, and methods of protecting fish against damage by the turbine blades and help for the migrating fish such as fish ladders used in hydropower dams.
In the end Environmentalists will have to decide between damage to the estuary wildlife through a tidal barrage or through global warming and climate change, escalating due to the use of fossil fuels.
Climate change will probably cause more damage to the Severn estuary through rising sea levels and species diversion, but can be somewhat mitigated by the use of a large scale renewable energy project saving millions of tons of CO2 emissions.
Projected costs have been put at 14 billion pounds, most of which will have to come from investment by businesses with the rest coming from the government.
However, given today’s economic climate, businesses, especially banks, are being very cautious and this does not bode well for the Severn Tidal Barrage investment, as any money invested will be for the long-term.
Update December 2011
In 2010, the British Government decided to shelve the Severn Tidal Barrage Project citing costs, lack of long-term investment from private companies, along with environmental problems. They have chosen Nuclear Power as the alternative to the CO2 emission from fossil fuelled power plants.