An independent commission is being set up to assess tidal renewable projects in the Severn Estuary, including a barrage which could generate 7% of the UK’s electricity needs. The commission has been given the go-ahead by the Western Gateway, a cross-border partnership stretching from Swansea in the west to Swindon in the east – covering a population of 4.4 million. The public-private partnership is seen as creating an economic powerhouse on a footing with the more established Northern Powerhouse and the Midlands Engine in England.
The last proposed barrage scheme, from a company called Hafren Power, proposed a 18 kilometre barrage from Lavernock Point in the Vale of Glamorgan to the Brean Peninsula on the English side of the estuary in Somerset. It had little support from then the Cameron Government. However, with the Welsh and UK Government seeking to reach net zero by 2050 – and the recent government agreement between Plaid Cymru and Labour seeking to bring that 15 years forward in Wales – a barrage could now be in a better position to get government backing in terms of energy security and its mitigation against rising levels on both sides of the estuary from climate change. But it could take 15 years to achieve the potential of up to 7 per cent of the UK’s total energy needs.