Plans scrutinised by Energy and Climate Change Committee as DECC warns that government is not yet ready to back development

Peter Hain

Peter Hain

The energy department has indicated the plan for a £25bn Severn Barrage project has “a long way to go” before it could be considered for government backing.

Hafren Power, the developer of the proposed barrage, which would generate up to 5% of the UK’s electricity, will need government support to get a Hybrid Bill passed before the project
can proceed.

Last week, the plans for the barrage were scrutinised by MPs on the Energy and Climate Change Committee, with Peter Hain, MP, an outspoken champion of the scheme, saying Hafren Power would be willing to agree a guaranteed price for its electricity well below the £170 per MWh that it estimates it will cost to produce the power. Offshore wind power currently costs around £140 MWh.

Hain said: “They are not asking for anything more than what offshore wind gets and the cost will be significantly less because of the [tidal surge] protection it brings to the nation.”

But Tim Yeo, the Conservative chair of the committee, said he had “serious concerns” over the economic viability of a proposed barrage: “I think there are some serious concerns on the financial sides, as well as environmental issues.”

A Department of Energy and Climate Change spokesperson said: “So far, we have only seen a very draft and high level outline business case from Hafren Power. Even if this proposal can meet our criteria, it has a long way to go in development.”