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River Severn

Volume 454: debated on Wednesday 13 December 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment his Department has made of the feasibility of power generation projects in the River Severn. (108955)

Between 1978 and 1994 the Government supported a number of studies under their Tidal Energy Research and Development Programme. Those studies included a detailed assessment of a Severn barrage tidal power generation scheme1.

During the course of the recent Energy Review we received a range of views on tidal generation, including representations by the Severn Tidal Power Group2 on their plans for a Severn Barrage, which could provide around 5 per cent. of current UK electricity demand by 2020 and cost in the region of £14 billion. We also received representations from a number of the Environmental Non-Government Organisations, which raised strong concerns regarding such a scheme, in view of the environmental designations that apply to the Severn Estuary.

We are interested in improving our understanding of how to make best use of the potential tidal resource in UK waters. Therefore, together with the Welsh Assembly Government, we are working with the Sustainable Development Commission, the South West Regional Development Agency and other key interested parties to explore the issues arising from the tidal resource in the UK, including the Severn Estuary, including potential costs and benefits of development using a range of tidal technologies and their public acceptability.

The final report of the study is expected to be published in June 2007 and further information can be found at

1 Energy Paper 57 HMSO 1989 (ISBN 0 11 412952 5)

2 The Severn Tidal Power Group is a joint venture of four large power engineering and construction companies: Alstom, Balfour Beatty, Sir Robert McAlpine and Taylor Woodrow.