HC Deb 12 May 1983 vol 42 cc379-80W
Mr. Hannam

asked the Secretary of State for Energy what representations have been made to him following the publication of the Severn barrage committee's report in July 1981; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Lawson

Many comments were received on the report from local authorities, organisations and individuals. Most of these supported the committee's recommendation of further studies to establish the viability of a barrage from Brean Down to Lavernock Point and to look at the wider implications. I have given careful consideration to all the views expressed.

I have also received detailed proposals for a jointly funded study from the Severn tidal power group. This group comprises Sir Robert McAlpine and Sons, GEC Power Engineering, Taylor Woodrow Construction, Northern Engineering Industries and Balfour Beatty. The study would be directed towards the assessment of the technical and financial viability of a barrage built and operated by the private sector.

I have decided that this is the right way to proceed. Subject to agreement on the terms and conditions of contract, matching funds will be provided for this study from my Department's non-nuclear R and D budget, up to a total of £250,000 over two years. This support will be given on the understanding that no Government commitment will exist after the two-year study is complete.

The initiative taken by the STPG in this matter is most welcome. The Severn barrage could make a significant contribution to our future electricity needs, and offer a valuable complement to coal-fired and nuclear power stations.

Private sector involvement at this early stage will ensure that the commercial implications of the project are realistically evaluated.

Details of the proposed study will be worked out over the next few months. Local Authorities and other interested parties will be consulted.