Energy secretary says £30bn project poor value for money

Energy secretary Chris Huhne today announced the government will not fund the proposed £30bn Severn Barrage scheme, in a move that is likely to see the scheme cancelled.

Huhne announced the move after the department of Energy and Climate Change published a report saying the proposal represented poor value for money in the current environment, and that funding for renewable energy would be better spent elsewhere.

The Severn Tidal Power feasibility study showed that a tidal power scheme in the Estuary could cost in excess of £30bn, and would be high risk in comparison to other ways of generating electricity. It said a Severn tidal project should not be ruled out as a longer term option, but noted significant uncertainty over whether it could comply with regulation and whether a scheme would fundamentally change the natural environment of the estuary.

Chris Huhne said: “The study clearly shows that there is no strategic case at this time for public funding of a scheme to generate energy in the Severn estuary. Other low carbon options represent a better deal for taxpayers and consumers.”

The move came as he gave the go ahead for a new generation of nuclear reactors on eight sites in the UK. However, contrary to speculation, he Huhne did not reveal details of a regime to subsidise nuclear and renewable investment through the creation of a floor price for carbon.