Severn Barrage: £25bn plans 'dead in the water'

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Media caption,

Neath MP Peter Hain says the UK government has refused to commit to the barrage

Plans for a £25bn barrage in the Severn Estuary are "dead in the water" in the current Parliament, it has been said.

Hafren Power wants to build an 11-mile barrage between Lavernock Point near Penarth, Vale of Glamorgan, and Brean near Weston-super-Mare, Somerset.

But one of the barrage's key supporters Neath MP Peter Hain says the UK government has refused to commit to it.

In June MPs said Hafren had failed to make the case that it would be good for the economy or the environment.

In a report, the House of Commons' Energy and Climate Change Committee criticised a "lack of information and a perceived lack of transparency" about the proposal.

The case for the barrage is "unproven" and Hafren Power "has yet to provide robust and independently verified evidence of the economic, environmental and technological viability of the project", the report said.

MPs were warned also about the potential of job losses in nearby ports, and concluded the scheme is no "knight in shining armour" to meet renewable energy targets.

The committee said the UK government should remain open to considering a project in the Severn but "far more detail and evidence" would be required to make an informed decision about Hafren Power's proposal.

Supporters of the scheme argue the tidal barrage could generate 5% of the UK's electricity.

And earlier this year, former Welsh Secretary Mr Hain said the time had come to press ahead and build the Severn Barrage as the proposal has been "studied to death".

But speaking to BBC Radio Wales, Mr Hain said: "It (the UK government) refuses to say whether it backs it or opposes it.

"In practice it has put it into the long grass and therefore as far as this Parliament is concerned it is dead in the water but not as far as the future is concerned."

Mr Hain, who quit the shadow cabinet to back the barrage, said the government was guilty of "stubborn refusal" to engage.

"It really made me feel that they weren't interested in it," he added.

"It's very, very disappointing because it could have been and still could be under a future government in a future Parliament an absolutely key part of producing our energy security."

When the scheme was launched, Mr Hain said the barrage would bring "considerable benefits" to the UK - creating about 20,000 jobs and generating 30,000 more in the supply chain and other parts of industry, giving an economic boost to south Wales and south-west England.

The electricity generated would be equivalent to three or four nuclear power stations and thousands of wind turbines, he said.

The UK government has been asked to comment.

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