Report from 10-strong environmental coalition says electricity generation scheme would be an expensive ecological disaster
A coalition of environmental charities has strongly objected to plans for a £15bn tidal barrage across the Severn that would provide 5% of the UK's electricity.
Ten groups, including the National Trust, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and the WWF, have joined forces to fight the scheme, which is key to the government's drive to meet its EU target of sourcing 40% of electricity renewably by 2020.
The environmentalists object that the 10-mile long tidal barrage between Cardiff and Weston-super-Mare, with 200 turbines, would destroy nearly 35,000ha of protected wetlands. The ecological impact of its construction in terms of carbon emissions is another concern raised in their report.
The report, commissioned from economics consultancy Frontier Economics, also claims that the scheme does not stack up economically, pointing out that the stated cost of £15bn excludes land acquisition and the replacement of wildlife habitats.
The government is carrying out feasibility studies on the barrage plan after the Sustainable Development Commission found in favour of it last year on condition that it be state funded and that the wetlands be compensated for elsewhere.
The objectors say that other renewable energy technologies could provide power more efficiently and effectively, not least because the cycle of the tides in the Severn means a barrage might not provide electricity at the times it is most required.
They also question whether the plan for the barrage to be built and run by the state would be permitted under Treasury rules.