Published: June 27, 2013
£10bn 'energy claw' alternative to barrage revealed for Bristol Channel

Proposals to build a 'radically different' £10bn alternative to the Severn Barrage near Burnham-On-Sea have been unveiled this week.

Welsh entrepreneur Gareth Woodham, pictured during a visit to Burnham, is drawing up proposals for a 2.5-mile wide 'energy claw' with 64 underwater power turbines generating electricity.

Unlike other barrage schemes, the structure would not be linked to Brean Down or the Welsh coastline.

Instead, it would be positioned in the middle of the Bristol Channel where the tidal flows are greatest and would allow sea water to flow around the sides, reducing the impact on the environment.

"The structure has been designed especially to remove any impact on wildlife, the coastline and the natural environment of the Bristol Channel," Mr Woodham told

"It would be constrcted from the sea, so there would be no need for building traffic to come into Brean, removing the impact on the tourism industry, residents and local businesses."

He added: "This is a radically different scheme to harness energy from the Bristol Channel. It would be easy to build, would have no impact on shipping because sea traffic, such as tankers on their way to Portishead, would always be able to sail around it, and the environment would also benefit too."

"Concerns about silt movement would be removed, and there would be no impact on birds or wildlife. There would also be no impact to landmarks such as Brean Down because the 'energy claw' would not be linked up to the mainland."

The downside, according to Mr Woodham, is that the structure would not create as much electricity as a full barrage.

"This scheme would generate half the power of a full scheme - about 9,000 Mega watts a day - but that would still be a huge amount of 'green' energy."

"Building a smaller scheme like this also has cost benefits," he added. "I estimate the 'energy claw' would be around £10bn to build, not the £20bn of other projects. There is no other scheme like this - it is unique."

Mr Woodham - who is behind the Severn Lake project - has been in talks with businesses and politicians for several years to push forward an energy scheme in the Bristol Channel, which he says is badly needed.

The news comes just weeks after we reported here that another barrage firm, Hafren Power, had been told by a committee of MPs that its plans for a £25bn barrage across the Severn Estuary from Brean Down to Wales should not go ahead in their current form.

MPs said that Hafren had failed to make the case whether an 11-mile barrage would be good for the economy or the environment.

Pictured: Gareth Woodham; a model of the proposed 'energy claw'; and Brean beach


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