Stephen Williams MP - working hard for Bristol West

Stephen Williams MP calls for new look at Severn Barrage

11.19.33am BST (GMT +0100) Wed 29th Mar 2006

Lib Dem MP for Bristol West Stephen Williams has put forward a motion to parliament urging ministers to look again at the prospect of a Severn Barrage.

The barrage would generate about 6% of the UK's electricity needs from the ebb and flow of the tides. It was last looked at almost 20 years ago, but rejected due to environmental concerns. However, given new worries over global warming and advances in technology Mr Williams believes that the scheme should be looked at anew and included in the government's current energy review.

Stephen said "The Severn Barrage would be a green and clean way of generating 2000 Mega Watts of electricity - equivalent to 3 nuclear power stations or 10 million tonnes of coal. This would contribute enormously to meeting our targets on carbon dioxide emissions and therefore should be looked at carefully. There are possible issues surrounding cost and the effect on bird life, however these need to be considered in light of the global threats we now face."

"Unlike other renewable energy like solar and wind power, tidal power is completely predictable and therefore a very reliable energy source. Even when the tide does not coincide with peak demand, because we would know when to expect it the energy could be stored in some form elsewhere."

"I recall the huge local controversy when the new nuclear power station was opened at Hinkley Point. I'm fearful that Tony Blair will push for a new generation of nuclear stations, rather than investing in renewables," he added.

The motion backs up Lib Dem lead Bristol City Council, who made a similar call for a rethink on the issue at a recent meeting. The Welsh Assembly are also reported to be considering the idea.

The Early Day Motion Stephen Williams MP has tabled is number 1876 and reads:

That this House notes that the problem of global warming is the greatest environmental threat the world has ever seen; further notes that the long proposed Severn Tidal Barrage would generate an estimated six per cent. of the UK's current energy needs, leaving the UK less dependent on nuclear power, coal or foreign oil for energy production; further notes that the barrage would generate 2,000 MW of renewable, green energy per year, equivalent to three nuclear power stations, or 10 million tonnes of coal; further notes that the proposed barrage was blocked in previous decades primarily by environmental concerns in the estuary, but that those concerns pre-dated the realisation of the numerous and consequential environmental problems now faced from global warming, many of which would be countered by the barrage; and urges the Government to include a serious reappraisal of the barrage, including an environmental impact study, as part of its Energy Review.

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