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United Kingdom: The great divide: Green dilemma over plans for Severn barrage

Britain's biggest engineering project since the Channel tunnel threatens to divide the environmental movement

Source:  Copyright 2009, Independent
Date:  January 27, 2009
Byline:  Michael McCarthy
Original URL: Status ONLINE


Britain's environmental movement was yesterday presented with its starkest choice yet: whether or not to support the world's largest-ever renewable energy project which will result in unprecedented ecological damage to one of our most important natural habitats.

The giant £20bn Severn barrage, which would stretch 10 miles from Lavernock Point near Cardiff to Brean Down near Weston-super-Mare, would harness the tides to generate up to 5 per cent of the UK's electricity needs -- the equivalent of eight typical coal-fired power stations. This is crucially important in the fight against climate change.

But environmentalists fear that by blocking the Severn estuary completely, the barrage would destroy vast areas of mudflats and mashes, which are vital feeding grounds for tens of thousands of wading birds, and prevent migratory fish such as salmon and eels from ascending rivers to spawn. Other environmentalists think such a large project would divert resources away ...

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