Published: September 2, 2010
Soaring costs are threatening £21bn Severn Barrage plan

Supporters and opponents of a proposed £21 billion Severn Barrage between Brean Down and Wales are waiting to see whether the scheme will be ditched by the Government this autumn.

It follows suggestions that Energy minister Charles Hendry believes the power- generating scheme may be threatened because of soaring costs.

Supporters say that work on a barrage would provide a huge economic boost for the area as well as provide up to five per cent of the UK's total energy needs, while opponents believe the cost in environmental terms on wildlife in the Severn Estuary are too great.

A feasibility study is due to be published in October following a two-year public consultation.

The Labour government was keen to see a barrage built but the coalition government's massive cost-cutting programme has hit the Department for Energy and Climate.

The Energy Minister was speaking at an energy conference in Norway this week. Asked where the barrage might be built, Mr Hendry said: "We have been studying responses to consultations and we are looking at that and we are due to publish a report in the near future."

He added: "We are also looking at the likely costs and these have been escalating over time."

At the event, he added that the Government was keen to be viewed as a careful guardian of the public purse and hinted that plans for a barrage would be unlikely to get government funding.

It comes after government minister Chris Huhne said earlier this year that he was keen on environmentally friendly schemes but stressed that cost was a major factor. reported last year how a shortlist of schemes is being considered for the estuary.

The Brean Down to Lavernock Point scheme, pictured above, was the favoured scheme

A £4bn tidal lagoon is also being considered for Bridgwater Bay

Many proposals for barrages and lagoons in the Bristol Channel have been considered in recent years, as pictured above

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