MPs criticise Severn Estuary £25bn barrage plan

The company behind plans for a £25bn barrage in the Severn Estuary - describe today's report by the Energy and Climate Change Committee as "frustrating" and "unhelpful" - but it is not surprising.

The MPs' report is based largely on three evidence sessions that made uncomfortable viewing for barrage supporters.

Hafren Power failed to convince MPs of the viability of the project in three key areas - financial, environmental and acceptability to the public.

Its timetable for a new law to pave the way for a barrage was "completely unrealistic".

Hafren Power had previously accepted that a negative report would effectively kill off the project as it would be harder to secure the £25bn of private investment needed.

Today, it says it will continue to work to address the MPs' concerns. Former cabinet minister Peter Hain says the ball is now in the government's court and unless ministers take the lead the project is "going nowhere".

But the report will make it harder for Hafren Power to convince ministers who were already sceptical about what they saw as a lack of detail in the company's scheme.

The idea of a barrage across the Severn Estuary has been debated since 1849. That debate will go on but many will conclude that Hafren Power's current proposal is dead in the water.

David Cornock Article written by David Cornock David Cornock Parliamentary correspondent, Wales

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