WILDLIFE CONCERNS AS REPORT GIVES GO AHEAD FOR SEVERN ESTUARY TIDAL LAGOON

Friday 13th January 2017

Severn Estuary (c) Peter Randall-CookSevern Estuary (c) Peter Randall-Cook

Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust welcomes recognition by the Hendry Review, released today, that any tidal lagoon development in the UK should be subject to strict monitoring of any impacts of the technology on the marine environment.

The Hendry Review, an independent study, was commissioned by the UK Government following Tidal Lagoon Power (TLP)’s plans to build tidal lagoons along the Severn Estuary to harness tidal power, and has come out in support of the development of a pathfinder tidal lagoon project at Swansea.

Colin Studholme, Director of Conservation at Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust said: “While recognising the potential enormous benefits which tidal lagoons could bring in terms of clean energy generation, the Trust would like to see this “pathfinder” project in Swansea fully analysing and quantifying its environmental and wildlife impacts.”

The Wildlife Trusts would like to see at least 8 years pause to cover two fish-spawning cycles.

The Hendry Review recognised that tidal lagoons are an as-yet untested technology, and as such was unable “to give an absolutely factual assessment of full life-cycle of environmental consequences” of the Swansea lagoon. The Review also stated that “[i]t will be necessary in many cases for developers of potential tidal lagoon sites to make good the loss of existing habitat for wildlife in order to comply with the Habitats and Birds Directives. Although this would not affect Tidal Lagoon in Swansea Bay, it is anticipated that Tidal Lagoon Cardiff alone would require a very significant amount of such ‘compensatory habitat’.”

The Wildlife Trusts believe that mitigation in the Severn Estuary will be very difficult due to the substantial loss of mudflats that are essential for 75,000 migratory birds.

However, the Trusts are pleased that the Review has recognised this and recommends that “should tidal lagoons be built, the Government should require a high level of on-going monitoring of environmental impacts to ensure that mitigation can be put in place where impacts are judged to require it.”

We are also pleased that the report recommends a pause between Swansea becoming operational and other plans for lagoons starting. The Wildlife Trusts would like to see at least 8 years pause to cover two fish-spawning cycles.

With the largest tidal range in Europe, a vast array of wildlife, rich cultural heritage and a wild and beautiful landscape, the Severn Estuary is one of the UK’s great natural wonders and a globally important site for nature. The Severn is home to over 100 different species of fish, the highest diversity of any UK estuary.