Turning the tide

Engineers, economists, local government officials and conservationists are gathering at UWE Bristol this week [18 April] to discuss innovative and sustainable solutions to generating power from the Severn Estuary. The conference has been organised by RSPB, Regen SW and The Bristol Port Company.

The estuary is well known for its potential to provide clean power, but experts for the organising partnership claim that proposals to date have not balanced economic and environmental needs.

Mark Robins, senior policy officer for RSPB said: “We have over the years seen numerous proposals for harnessing the power of the Severn, but they have all failed. They have failed because they have not taken into account the natural value of the estuary. And they have failed because they have not proven themselves economically.

“This needs to change because we absolutely need the clean power the river can provide. Now is the time to kick-start a better approach.”

The organisers believe that change will be brought about by all stakeholders coming together to develop a joint approach and new ways of working based on mutual understanding.  They also believe that innovation is the key.

Johnny Gowdy, spokesperson for Regen SW, said: “There is a growing body of opinion that believes that it is possible to balance the UK’s pressing need for energy with  environmental protection by deploying an innovative mix of technologies in the Bristol Channel.

“We already have a number of cutting edge companies in the UK working on tidal  technologies and other marine energy solutions which, if deployed intelligently, could generate the energy we need while managing the environmental impact and creating thousands of sustainable jobs.

“Get this right and we could set a new standard for energy infrastructure projects around the world.”

Speakers at the conference are  James Cameron (Climate Change Capital), Juliet Davenport (Good Energy), Mike Clarke (ceo, RSPB), Peter Kydd (director of Strategic Consulting at Parsons Brinckerhoff), Calvin Jones (professor of economics and associate dean at Cardiff Business School) and Matthew Quinn (director, Environment and Sustainability, Welsh Assembly).

The conference will be held on 18 April and film, audio and texts will be available at