Nuclear not an alternative to tidal

Today's UK Government announcement that it is scrapping plans to build the large Cardiff to Weston barrage has been welcomed by Friends of the Earth Cymru.  Government support for nuclear power, however, has been dismissed by the group as a dangerous distraction.

 The Director of Friends of the Earth Cymru, Gordon James, said:

"We have long argued that the Cardiff to Weston-super-Mare Severn Barrage would have been too costly in both financial and environmental terms, and that better options exist to harness this important source of clean energy.

"The costs of construction are now estimated at £34 billion for a project that would have caused irreversible damage to wildlife sites that are meant to be protected by law [1]. This could have resulted in prolonged legal challenges that would have further delayed the project so that it would have been unlikely to deliver the clean energy we so desperately need for around 20 years.

"The barrage would also have caused grid balancing problems as it would have generated a large amount of electricity in two pulses of around four hours each day that would have been difficult to synchronise with demand.

"The Severn Estuary is an extremely important source of renewable energy that ought to be harnessed as soon as possible. We believe this could be done by other less damaging technologies, such as tidal lagoons, tidal reefs and a Shoots reef scheme with a railway crossing. We hope the government will pursue these better options urgently.

"Nuclear power is a dangerous distraction. Building a large nuclear power station at Wylfa on Anglesey would do nothing to address the challenge of climate change. Instead it would be a dangerous distraction, diverting political attention and scarce resources from better solutions [2].

"Concentrating our efforts on energy efficiency and renewable energy could tackle our rising emissions and energy security sooner and cheaper. And no one has yet convincingly addressed the massive problems of hazardous waste, terrorism and nuclear proliferation."


  1. The Severn Estuary has been designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest, a Special Protection Area, a Wetland of International Importance (Ramsar) and proposed as a Special Area of Conservation. The government's environmental advisers in Wales, the Countryside Council for Wales, position statement on the Severn Barrage in 2006 stated that the barrage would cause irreversible impacts to sites of international importance, could impede the migration of fish to the rivers Wye, Usk, Severn and Avon, and "would not be possible within the current legal framework".
  2. Energy and climate change minister, Chris Huhne, announced at this year's Liberal Democrats conference that over half of his department's budget, £1.7 billion, is spent on nuclear clean-up costs.  Nuclear power generates just three to four per cent of the UK's energy demand

For further information, please contact Friends of the Earth Cymru on 029 2022 9577

Source: Friends of the Earth Cymru