Turning the tide: a new vision for the Severn Estuary

Issue date: 01 March 2013

Bristol Port, Regen SW and The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) will be hosting a conference at UWE Bristol in April to develop a sustainable approach to tidal energy generation on the Severn Estuary. The conference will bring together key decision makers and influencers from both sides of the Estuary and nationally.

Delegates from government, local authorities and businesses, along with engineers, environmentalists and academics will look at how renewable energy can be generated sustainably on the Severn Estuary without environmental damage. Speakers so far include James Cameron (Climate Change Capital), Juliet Davenport (Good Energy), Mike Clarke (CEO, RSPB) and Matthew Quinn (Director, Environment and Sustainability, Welsh Assembly).

Mark Robins, from RSPB said; “We are living in challenging times. We are struggling to kick-start the economy, we are facing the uncertainties of climate change and we are losing precious natural resources.

“The idea of creating energy from the Severn Estuary is not new. It has been talked about many times over the past hundred years or so - yet nothing has happened - perhaps because most proposals have been too costly, too risky and too damaging. Current proposals for a barrage are proving controversial and, we believe, are both limiting debate and the search for solutions that genuinely work for economy and environment.

“It is becoming clear that the impacts of climate change are already being felt, and so the need to move rapidly to cleaner, renewable forms of energy is urgent. We cannot wait.

“There is a need to bring together industry leaders, local and national governments, environmental groups and economic development agencies to plan rapidly for and implement a sustainable future for the Severn. This is not a drag on development - it is about embracing it. It is about recognising the overwhelming need for clean energy and a vibrant economy and a resilient natural environment.

“We believe that there are optimal solutions that do not compromise each other. We believe that we need to move fast - creating a new momentum and a road map for action.”

Speaking about the conference Johnny Gowdy from Regen SW said, “We are a group of organisations and companies who have huge ambitions for the Severn. We believe that it can become an example of how to create truly sustainable solutions for the 21st century.

“We are confident that the estuary can provide a significant amount of the clean energy that the country needs - without compromising the internationally significant habitats or the existing economy of the area.

“Furthermore, we believe that, by encouraging the use of the Severn Estuary as a test bed for a whole range of tidal technologies, we can help develop a strong sector capable of competing across the world.”

The conference is to be held in April and it is hoped that a wider coalition will follow that can develop some realistic proposals for generating power from the Severn.

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