January 17, 2017
'Significant step forward' for Bridgwater Bay lagoon plans welcomed

The prospect of a Bridgwater Bay lagoon being constructed in the sea near Burnham-On-Sea has been welcomed.

It comes after plans for a £1.3bn tidal lagoon in Swansea Bay to generate power were last week backed by a government-commissioned review.

Former Energy Minister Charles Hendry's independent report into the technology's viability said it would make a "strong contribution" to the UK's energy supply and would bring "significant economic opportunity".

There are hopes of developing a network of larger lagoons around the UK's coastline, including one in Bridgwater Bay in the Bristol Chanel off Burnham-On-Sea, harnessing power from the ebb and flow of the tides.

Cllr David Hall, Deputy Leader at Somerset County Council, has welcomed the findings in the review as "a significant step forward."

He added: "A key part of our vision for Somerset is to be at the heart of discussions about solar power and tidal lagoons to make sure Somerset is in the vanguard of developments."

"This review is extremely positive and is another step forward to delivering our decarbonisation commitments."

The report concludes "that tidal lagoons can play a cost effective role in the UK’s energy mix and there is considerable value in a small (less than 500 MW) pathfinder project. I conclude that tidal lagoons would help deliver security of supply; they would assist in delivering decarbonisation commitments; and they would bring real and substantial opportunities for the UK supply chain."

MP Ian Liddell-Grainger, the Conservative member for Bridgwater and West Somerset, agreed that a favourable assessment of the £1.3bn Swansea project by Mr Hendry has now greatly increased the chances of a similar, major scheme going ahead on the Somerset side of the Channel.

The MP said: "This report really puts some flesh on the bones of the idea and makes it quite clear that a tidal barrage is feasible, affordable and desirable."

"Charles Hendry is a well-respected figure. He also supported Hinkley Point C and enjoyed the confidence of both management and unions involved in that project, so the Government should be listening to what he says."

"We know the conditions in Bridgwater Bay are ideal for tidal power generation so really the only issues to be settled are the strike price and the issuing of licences to build on the sea bed by the Crown Estate."

"Inevitably, I think, we are going to run into opposition from the RSPB but the potential loss of habitat would, I am sure, be far less than would be experienced from a tidal barrage."

"And when it comes to balancing out all the issues, from the needs of wildlife to the nation's requirements for clean, reliable long-term energy generation I still believe there will be far more positives than negatives when the case for the Bridgwater Bay project is examined closely."

The Bristol Channel experiences the second-highest tidal range in the world and has been earmarked for some form of tidal power generation since the 1950s.

The UK government still needs to agree on a deal and a marine licence would also need to be approved.


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