A new Severn Barrage, that provides as much electricity as 3,000 wind turbines, could be approved by end of the year, according to Peter Hain
The former minister said the controversial barrage, that was chucked out by Government two years ago, has been completely rethought so that fish and birds are not threatened.
The plan is for an 18km (11 mile) barrage between the Vale of Glamorgan and Weston-super-Mare.
He said the Government is also more likely to approve the £25bn project because the new group of investors and engineers are not asking for any public money.
The new barrage, that could be built by 2024, could provide 5 per cent of the UK’s electricity needs and the cheapest energy on the market decades to come.
Mr Hain, who is due to give evidence to the Energy and Climate Change Committee, said it would also protect 90,000 homes from floods in the South West and Wales.
The Neath MP and former Welsh Secretary Peter Hain stood down from the Labour front bench earlier this year to support developer Hafren Power’s plans.
The company has said it has improved on previous plans for a barrage that were rejected in 2010 by using smaller turbines that can generate power on both the rising and falling tide and at slower speeds.
The changes, the company has said, mean its plans are more fish-friendly and will also reduce the amount of intertidal mudflats that will be lost to feeding birds.
But the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds remain concerned that the scheme will threaten rare birds by draining habitat.
The EU Habitats Directive would require compensatory habitat to be created elsewhere to replace that which is damaged in the Severn. This could involve the creation or restoration of thousands of hectares of intertidal habitat and/or hundreds of miles of salmon and shad river habitat.
“We remain highly sceptical that a development on this scale, in such a sensitive environment, will not cause unacceptable damage to the ecological and geomorphological functions of the Severn Estuary,” said the Angling Trust.
There are also concerns that the electricity will in fact be very expensive because of the costs of construction.
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