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Severn barrage: wildlife impact will be addressed, Hain promises

Category: Wales

Published: 20th Aug 2012 07:43:25

The Welsh MP leading plans to build a £30bn barrage across the Severn estuary has promised environmental groups their concerns will be addressed.

Former Welsh Secretary Peter Hain said he was very encouraged by Prime Minister David Cameron's interest.

Supporters say the barrage would provide 5% of the UK's electricity and create thousands of jobs.

Mr Hain said they would also take steps to address concerns about the impact on local wildlife.

The UK government previously rejected plans for a publicly-funded project after a two-year feasibility study found the cost of building the barrage from the Vale of Glamorgan to Somerset could be up to £34bn, double the initial estimate.

Mr Hain, who gave up his post in Labour's shadow cabinet to devote more time to promoting the barrage, said the latest proposals from the Corlan Hafren consortium would not need a single penny of taxpayer's money.

When it has sufficient confidence that the government at least is going to give it in-principle backing then of course all that detail will be published”

It is claimed that the barrage would result in 20,000 jobs being created during construction and 30,000 long term, in addition to helping meet the UK's targets for renewable energy.

The Neath MP told BBC Wales that a meeting with Mr Cameron had been very positive, with the consortium needing the UK government's support in principle to pass planning and regulatory hurdles.

The RSPB has previously said that a conventional barrage would be "an environmental disaster" and possibly be in breach of the EU habitats directive, while Friends of the Earth have said that other technologies would have "less damaging consequences".

Mr Hain said the new plan would reduce the risk of flooding, but admitted there were concerns about the impact on local wildlife.

"The RSPB, with who the consortium has engaged positively, still has got very serious questions that need to be answered," he said.

"The anglers also have met us and talked to us as well," he added.

"Their concerns are being discussed - a different type of turbine designed and other kinds of configurations which make it much more fish and bird friendly."

Mr Hain said the consortium would see the various environmental groups at a stakeholders' meeting in the coming weeks, and that full details of the proposal would be released when appropriate.

"When it has sufficient confidence that the government at least is going to give it in-principle backing then of course all that detail will be published," he said.

Downing Street confirmed that the prime minister met Mr Hain and Corlan Hafren in July to discuss the barrage plan.

A spokesman said: "The government is keen to promote a diverse range of energy supply and will consider the proposals carefully."

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BBC News, 2012. Severn barrage: wildlife impact will be addressed, Hain promises [Online] (Updated 20th Aug 2012)
Available at: http://www.ukwirednews.com/news/1447057/Severn-barrage-wildlife-impact-will-be-addressed-Hain-promises [Accessed 20th Aug 2014]

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