Energy white paper expected to study scheme’s potential for supply 5% of UK’s electricity

Plans for a £14bn hydroelectric barrage in the Bristol Channel could move a step closer with publication of the government’s energy white paper.

The paper is expected to look at the project’s potential as part of a wider raft of green energy schemes. If the government decide to press ahead with the barrage, the project would create 35,000 construction jobs.

The barrage would use the tidal energy of the Severn Estuary to create electricity. It would need to be ten miles across, with more than 200 turbines. The barrage would also add another transport link between Wales and Somerset.

Supporters say it could supply 5% of the UK’s electricity within 11 years, but environmentalists are concerned at the potential damage on wildlife.

The scheme appears to be growing in favour after 24 MPs signing an Early Day Motion calling for the plans to be reappraised.

A spokesman for the Severn Tidal Power Group said: “It is time the barrage was thought about again. Prices of fossil fuels have gone up, the environment has changed, legislation has changed, the way we sell electricity has changed and the security of the supply is a bigger issue”

Hydroelectric energy is one of the greenest forms of energy production, though the barrage would need to run for years to erase the carbon footprint made by its construction.