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Home / Latest News / Severn barrage consortium needs to raise extra £25m for next stage

Severn barrage consortium needs to raise extra £25m for next stage

The consortium hoping to build a barrage across the Severn has so far raised less than a sixth of the money needed to progress the project through to its next stage.

Hafren Power has previously said it needs £30m to pay for environmental impact assessments, but chief executive Tony Pryor said yesterday the amount raised was less than £5m.

Earlier Prof Brian Morgan, standing in for Neath MP Peter Hain, had said the hostile report on the scheme by a committee of MPs had made it “far more difficult” to raise the remaining £25m.

But Mr Pryor said the consortium had already invested the equivalent of £18m in work on the project so far, including pro bono work, on “stage 1 work”.

Mr Pryor added that the consortium was looking at ways to reduce the costs of the stage 2 assessments.

“Because we’re private sector we want to do it as efficiently as possible. On HS2 they’ve got different teams cross-checking each other.

“Cross checking all the time is costly. To make that more efficient we’ll say, ‘you’re responsible for that, we’re not going to have someone ‘marking’ you, we’ll believe what you say’.”

Mr Pryor said the consortium is still hoping for a change in the Government’s stance and is lobbying MPs to bring it about.

“We have a letter from Greg Barker saying the Government is not opposed in principle to the barrage, but you need to do these various things. Now you can read that either way.

“We would like it to be a little more positive, more powerful – ‘if you do these things we will negotiate the strike price with you, because we need your energy, but you have to do these things, birds, habitats, fish, etc.’

“We’re lobbying senior politicians, saying come on guys, this is decision time, show some leadership.

“We’ve been invited back for a meeting with the Treasury in two weeks. The fact that we’ve been invited back since the committee report is tremendous.

“And we’re still talking to other ministers and involved MPs who are supporting us, and there are still quite a few.”

Speaking about the Energy Committee’s report, he said: “The line they’ve taken is it’s unproven, not unprovable. I agree with them, it is unproven, that’s why we’ll take two years to prove it.

“We’re pretty sure that it’s provable to the point where you can get planning approval and that’s what we need to do.”

Mr Pryor confirmed that the consortium intends to use the Rolls Royce concept design for a very low head turbine.

He said that Hafren Power has been in talks with three of the world’s largest turbine manufacturers, and that they intend to build a full scale test model to prove performance.

Mr Pryor was at a conference in Cardiff on tidal energy and the Severn barrage, organised by the Institute of Civil Engineers and the Royal Academy of Engineering.

Earlier the conference heard First Minister Carwyn Jones say it was “disappointing” that the MPs’ report “takes us no further.”

He added: “Although the MPs did not decide to support the barrage at this moment, I do welcome the fact that the door is not completely closed.”

Mr Jones said his government “believe the Severn estuary is an important strategic source of renewable energy with significant economic benefits.”

He added: “We know a balance has to be struck. There’s no question the Severn has enough power to generate a substantial amount of electricity, but there are environmental considerations that need to be taken into account.

“The Severn estuary is important for various specialised creatures, particularly as a conservation site for a variety of species, and these must be considered in assessment of different technologies for harnessing tidal range.”

Mr Jones added that “there has never been a more crucial time” to harness the tidal energy in the Severn.

“As we see older technologies and power stations begin to close down we will need an energy mix that is low carbon and provides energy security,” he said.

Dr Ron Loveland, energy adviser to the Welsh Government, said that people would have to use their own judgement as to whether the Severn barrage was a credible project.

“There’s a lot of lobbying out there from vested interests and you have to be very careful to look at what the essence of a project is and not be influenced by the lobbying,” he said.

He added that there are solutions to all the problems that have been identified and that government needs “to take a long-term view, we’ve done it with oil and gas exploration.”

“My plea is that we do that with marine energy, otherwise it will be difficult to take forward even with the support that I can assure you is there from the Welsh Government.”

 

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