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Severn Estuary Tidal Power - Resource Page

Photo of the Severn Crossing, by Jonny Page Photo Credit: Jonny Page

Tidal Power in the Severn Estuary

The issue of tidal power in the Severn Estuary never seems have been far from the headlines for the past three decades or so. Recent debate has again centred on a proposal for a Severn Barrage scheme from Lavernock Point near Penarth to Brean Down near Weston-super-Mare (frequently termed the Cardiff-Weston Barrage), with the latest scheme is being promoted by Hafren Power, a private sector consortium including major engineering and construction companies.

The House of Commons Energy and Climate Change Select Committee, after taking written and oral evidence from relevant organisations and individuals, published its findings ‘A Severn Barrage?’ on the 10th of June 2013. The report states that although a tidal barrage across the Severn could contribute to energy and climate change objectives, the £34bn Hafren Power scheme had failed to demonstrate economic, environmental and public acceptability. It added that potential environmental impacts had not been adequately addressed, and that although the construction of the barrage was to be privately funded, potentially significant government subsidy for the electricity would still be required for 30 years. The report concluded with the recommendation that the Government should not support the proposed scheme in its present form and that Hafren Power undertake and make available, further assessments.

In addition to the Cardiff-Weston Barrage proposal, there continues to be support for alternative schemes to harness the tidal power resource both in the estuary and areas of the Bristol Channel. Some of the technologies involved were presented at the Sustainable Severn conference held at the University of the West of England in Bristol, on the 18th of April 2013.  Recently a frontrunner has emerged in the form of Tidal Lagoon Swansea Bay, who have submitted plans for a £850m tidal lagoon in Swansea Bay which could provide power for 120,000 homes as a first step towards developing technology that could meet 10% of the UK's electricity needs from the tides.


The Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon

Latest News


Websites and Reports


The Severn Barrage


'A Severn Barrage?' Report Published

A report by MPs on the Energy and Climate Change Select Committee has been published stating that the case for Hafren Power's barrage scheme is unproven.


Recent Major Reports and Conferences


Background to Tidal Power on the Severn Estuary

Few people interested in the Severn estuary and the surrounding area can be unaware of the debate about harnessing the power of the tides. It is the biggest issue currently affecting the estuary and one which the Severn Estuary Partnership is keen to see properly debated.

The UK Government is committed to generating 20% of the nation's energy from renewable sources by 2020. A tidal power project in the Severn estuary could also contribute to the UK’s commitment to meeting the European Union’s Renewable energy target along with domestic and international greenhouse gas targets. It is claimed that developments in the Severn estuary, with a tidal range of 14 metres (the second largest tidal range in the world), could make a major contribution to meeting both these ambitious targets, but any scheme is inevitably going to have a significant impact on habitats and wildlife. Some proposals could also influence shipping to the ports of Cardiff, Bristol, Gloucester, Newport and Sharpness.

A number of organisations have stressed the need for an open public debate in order to help identify the best way of capturing the enormous renewable energy resource of the Severn estuary whilst safeguarding its internationally important combination of species and habitats and bringing lasting benefits to local communities. The Government’s Severn Tidal Power Feasibility Study Consultation was therefore about gathering and assessing evidence to enable Government to decide whether or not to support tidal power development in the Severn Estuary.

News Archive and Further Background Information




Other Major Reports and Conferences

All website links correct as of 09/06/2014, please contact if you find any that are broken.


About the Severn Estuary Partnership

Note: It is not the intention of the Severn Estuary Partnership to take any position regarding the debate about tidal power in the estuary, merely to provide a resource on the subject. About us. The different groups on the estuary and their various websites are easily viewed from the Severn Estuary Gateway.


State of the Severn Estuary Report

This document is set to be the first in a series that reports on the state of and changes in the natural and human environment of the Severn Estuary, establishing baseline data in the context of climate and other coastal change.

One of the main objectives was to inform a wide ranging audience, including local people and industry professionals alike, on why the Estuary is so unique by providing a non-technical overview of the Estuary environment; focusing on its uses and resources.

Future editions of the report will focus on the identification and analysis of a robust set of sustainability indicators, which can not only be used to determine the health of the Estuary environment and its resources, but will also aid in the development of effective management measures.

State of the Severn Estuary Report

The ‘State of the Severn Estuary Report’ has been produced by the Severn Estuary Partnership and Cardiff University, in collaboration with the Environment Agency (Wales). With support from the Interreg IVb IMCORE project, the report has been developed to incorporate contributions from the University’s lecturers, local industries, stakeholders and even Estuary residents – such as Miranda Krestovnikoff, presenter of the BBC’s Coast series – who kindly wrote the foreword and launched the summary document at the 2011 annual Severn Estuary Forum.


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