Published: October 18, 2010
Exclusive: Severn Barrage 'will still be built', vows entrepreneur

The entrepreneur behind the multi-billion pound project to build a Severn Barrage from Brean Down to Wales has today told that the project can still go ahead without the financial backing of the government.

Gareth Woodham, who is overseeing the Severn Lake project to build an 'energy
causeway' between Brean Down, near Burnham-On-Sea, to Lavernock Point, says this week's decision by Chris Huhne, the Climate Change Secretary, to scrap government proposals for a barrage should not get in the way of a private sector funded project.

Huhne has decided that the Severn scheme is too expensive, and that the main green priorities should be wind, nuclear and clean coal instead.

But Mr Woodham, pictured below, told "The coalition government have indicated that they have no funds to support this energy supply. They also believe that there is little interest from the private sector."

"However, the Severn Lake Company wish to make a planning application, acquire a lease to the land, and provide five per cent of the secure renewable energy that the UK desperately needs."

"So I urge the government to stand aside and let the private sector find the funding for the project instead. It can - and will - still happen."

He added: "We have just provided Parsons Brinckerhoff with a document outlining how we'd use the latest turbine technology to reduce the impact on wildlife and maximise the power generated."

Mr Woodham claimed that the £30bn cost of the project quoted in the national media has been "considerably exaggerated" to hurt the chances of it moving forward.

He said: "Our estimate of the cost is almost half this figure. I'd like to know who is providing such spurious figures. This really is a bog standard civil engineering project that is simple by today's standards."

The 10-mile (16km) barrage proposal - known as the Cardiff-Weston barrage - is one of five shortlisted schemes to harness renewable energy from the tides of the Severn Estuary, which has the second-largest tidal range in the world with 42ft (12.8m) tides. More details are on the Severn Lake website here.


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