Sunday, February 14, 2010

Barrage would be a disaster for the Severn

Surfbirds (UK): Increased flooding is just one of the disastrous effects a barrage across the Severn Estuary could cause. An official Dutch report – obtained by the RSPB – details the flood risk as well as the devastating impacts for wildlife, fishing, tourism and shipping from the construction of a storm surge barrier across the Oosterschelde estuary in the 1980s. The Oosterschelde is very similar to the Severn Estuary, where a barrage could have similar consequences.

The RSPB has learned officials at the Department for Energy and Climate Change knew about the Dutch report in 2008, but have still not published their own report into the effects of a barrage on the tides and sediments of the Severn Estuary. The Dutch report found that:
  • Increased erosion has led to the loss of mudflats along the estuary, leading to higher waves and water levels. Huge sums will have to be spent on strengthening coastal defences to protect lives and property
  • By 2050, the tidal flats of the Oosterschelde will have more than halved, falling from 11,000ha in 1986 to about 5,000ha in 2045 and 1,500ha by the end of the century
  • Salt marshes will disappear from all but the most sheltered locations by 2050
  • Less intertidal habitat will mean less shellfish and fewer birds. Oystercatcher numbers will have crashed 80 per cent by 2045 with other species “awaiting the same fate”
  • Shipping channels will become shallower and harder to navigate
  • Shellfisheries will be hit because of loss of habitat for the cockles and mussels
  • Tourism will be hit by the loss of wildlife interest.

Dr Mark Avery, the RSPB’s Director of Conservation, said: 'This report makes grim reading. It is the closest we can get to proof that a barrage across the Severn will devastate the estuary….

Ice pockets on Severn estuary. As the tide receded on the Severn estuary pockets of ice had formed on the sand after a heavy frost. Across the river is Broadoak and on the right of the skyline is May hill. Shot by Vincent Jones, for Geograph UK, Wikimedia Commons, the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license

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