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5 tidal barrage and lagoon projects for the UK Severn Estuary were chosen for a government shortlist today.

The huge 10 mile long Cardiff Weston Barrage proposal from Weston Super Mare to Cardiff could generate as much as 5% of UK electricity requirements, whereas the smaller Bridgwater Bay Lagoon project between Hinkley Point and Weston Super Mare has the potential to generate just under 1%.

Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Milliband said “The Severn Estuary has massive potential to help achieve our climate change and renewable energy targets…the five schemes on the shortlist are what we believe can be feasible, but this doesn’t mean we have lost sight of others”.

Milliband committed a further £500,000 to develop immature renewable energy technologies such as tidal reefs and fences.

The announcement has led to a mixed response. RSPB Head of Sustainable Development – Martin Harper said “today’s report recognises just how difficult, costly and environmentally damaging the project is likely to be” and Friends of the Earth advocate the smaller tidal lagoon schemes.

Taking a reserved approach, Andrew Lee, chief executive of advisors to the Government -The Sustainable Development Commission (SDC) said “We have an internationally important habitat and also a potential clean energy resource. How we approach this will set a precedent for every other country that’s looking at the same thing in the EU and elsewhere”.

The Severn Tidal barrage seems to experience the same pre-life as Crossrail and nuclear energy – the Government commission studies and chew the fat over and over (they are apparently discovering new insights) – but ultimately they just do not seem to have the will to make a decision about it.

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