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Public debate crucial to making best long-term decision on Severn Tidal Power

26 January 2009

Servern EstuaryWelcoming the Severn Tidal Power consultation and draft shortlist of schemes announced today, the Sustainable Development Commission stressed the need for open public debate in order to help identify the best way of capturing the enormous renewable energy resource of the Severn estuary whilst safeguarding its internationally important combination of species and habitats and bringing lasting benefits to local communities.


SDC Chair Jonathon Porritt, who chaired the Government’s launch event, said: "Faced with the problem of decarbonising our energy supply, the potential prize to be gained from harnessing the power of the Severn in terms of secure and low-carbon energy is one which we cannot afford to ignore. However, no solution which fails to address adequately the environmental, economic and social problems it would raise is worthy of consideration. The forthcoming public consultation is a vital step in reaching a decision which will serve our needs and those of future generations."

"The draft shortlist contains an imaginative but feasible list of proposals, combining a range of smaller options which could be realised sooner, and larger ones which could provide more energy, but take longer to become reality. And the funding provided for further research into as yet unproven tidal reef and fence technologies will provide a much needed opportunity for study to ensure our final decision is based on the best possible evidence."

In October 2007, the Sustainable Development Commission laid out a series of tough sustainability tests which Severn tidal power scheme should pass:

  • It must be publicly led as a project and publicly owned as an asset, in order to avoid short-termist decisions and ensure the long-term public interest
  • It must go ahead in full compliance with EU Habtitats and Birds Directives, which will require assessment of mitigation and compensation on a scale as yet unseen in Europe.
  • A Severn tidal power scheme must not divert Government attention away from much wider action on climate change.

» Read more about the SDC’s tidal power work


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