Plan to build islands across Severn estuary

  • 18 April 2012
  • From the section Somerset
The Severn estuary
The £14bn causeway would stretch from Brean Down, near Weston-super-Mare, to the Welsh coast

Plans to build 12 man-made islands as part of a tidal barrage across the Severn estuary have been revived by a Welsh businessman.

Gareth Woodham wants to harness tidal power between south Wales and Weston-super-Mare to create electricity.

The UK government in 2010 rejected plans for a publicly-funded barrage, but did not rule out private schemes.

Mr Woodham said his Severn Lake project "could provide up to 15% of the UK energy requirement from the Severn".

The plan is to build a 12.5km (7.7 mile) concrete causeway, with 198 hydro-electric turbines, stretching from Brean Down, near Weston-super-Mare, to Lavernock Point in south Wales.

The £14bn scheme would create a 145,000 hectare tidal lagoon in the Bristol Channel.

Free-flow shipping channels are also being proposed along with two wave farms, four marinas, a lifeboat station and a dozen islands.

Mr Woodham said: "There will be 12 'Woodham Islands' - some floating, some fixed.

"The islands will be nearly two acres in size - some will be privately owned and some will be for the leisure industry. For instance, there'll be a diving and fishing island with a small harbour and wooden lodges."

The businessman, from Neath, put forward a change of use application for the estuary to Sedgemoor District Council planners in 2006 but the application was referred to the government.

In 2010 the government decided to shelve plans for a barrage amid concerns about the potential costs involved.

'Early days'

However, a feasibility study did not rule out a privately financed scheme coming forward to build the barrage.

"After six years of drifting slowly forward towards energy from the Severn, it is warming up," said Mr Woodham.

"It is early days and it will take, depending on criteria, one to three years to obtain permission to build the causeway.

"But the target we have set ourselves to complete this project is 2020."

A spokeswoman at Sedgemoor District Council said the project was at a "very, very early stage" but a pre-application discussion had been requested by Mr Woodham.

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