The energy price crisis should lead the Government to look again at harnessing the vast tidal power in the Severn Estuary, according to Metro Mayor Dan Norris.
Mayor Norris backed Labour’s comprehensive plan to deal with rising energy prices announced by Keir Starmer today (Monday 15 August), including looking again at the case for a tidal lagoon ‘pathfinder project’ recommended in a 2017 report by former energy minister Charles Hendry.
The Hendry report gave a thumbs up for a small-scale tidal energy project to unlock larger tidal lagoon programmes, but it was never delivered. Hendry concluded tidal lagoons could play a cost-effective role in the UK energy mix, producing huge amounts of clean, green electricity and cutting energy bills too.
The Government has been reluctant to put money into tidal power, citing value for money concerns. A strategy to achieve net-zero carbon, published last October, did not mention tidal energy at all, and tidal power got only a meagre mention in the long-awaited energy strategy published in April.
However, with energy prices now skyrocketing, the idea of a reliable, sustainable and green supply of energy on our doorstep meant kick-starting the West of England Combined Authority and Welsh Government-backed Severn Estuary project should be seen as a “no brainer”, Mr Norris said.
Experts say the Severn Estuary has huge potential for generating renewable marine power and cutting sky-high energy bills. According to the Institution of Civil Engineers, a Severn Estuary tidal project could provide up to 7% of the UK’s energy needs.
Metro Mayor Dan Norris said using the West of England’s incredible coastline could be a gamechanger in solving the UK’s energy crisis, and that the Severn Estuary project was the perfect scheme to kickstart the “age of tidal”, creating hundreds of new, skilled jobs. He said: “The cost-of-living crisis is becoming desperate, with thousands of West of Englanders fearful for how they’ll get through the winter. They need short term support from government, which is why Labour’s fully-funded £29 billion plan to freeze the energy price cap, saving the typical West of England family £1,000, and so help people through the difficult months ahead, is so important. But we’ve got to bring bills down in the long term too. The Severn Estuary project would be one of the world’s first tidal lagoon power plants, supplying a significant proportion of the UK’s energy needs and helping cut those sky-high energy bills. With the second highest tidal range anywhere in the planet, it’s a no brainer the UK’s first pathfinder project be here in the West. Not only would it be great for UK plc, but we could export this clean, green technology around the world, creating thousands of high-quality jobs in the process. So my message to the Government is clear – listen to Labour and let’s work together to finally unleash the age of tidal”.